Something a trifle different
We actually made this one pretty close to the actual date it was intended to be eaten, and it’s just been sitting around waiting for me to write about it for almost three months. The pudding hasn’t been sitting around. We ate that. The post has been sitting around that long. Sure, this pudding was a little strange, but it wasn’t so bad as to be left neglected for that long.
Mrs. Owl’s (who I’ve been mistitling here for years and will henceforth be referred to as Dr. Owl) little brother (who lives in a cabin in our garden and will henceforth be referred to as The Lodger) works on the local orchard and so throughout the summer our fridge fairly overflowed with seasonal plums varieties as he bought a little bit of all of them for us to try. Unfortunately, his enthusiasm for feeding us plums somewhat outstripped our enthusiasm for eating them, so when this pudding came along demanding a big pile of plummage I wasn’t shy of grabbing the opportunity.
This dessert calls for three layers, a base of plums, a middle layer of custard and a jelly-based top layer. Making custard from scratch is always such a satisfying and cathartic experience. I adore the way that it always feels like nothing is happening, and then ever so slowly your spoon starts gripping the bottom of the pan and everything comes together so delightfully. That combined with that sweet vanilla aroma, it honestly might be one of the best sensations that cooking has to offer, right up with with kneading a big loaf of bread with just the right amount of resistance.
The recipe calls for stewed plums and to re-use their syrup to make the jelly, which I suspect would have made for a slightly heavier and sweeter result than what we ended up with, but I don’t think that the version made with fresh plums and water jelly was really all that different from what was intended. We didn’t have much of a chance to dwell on it, though, as we had to whip the egg whites through the jelly to end up with this strange port wine jelly mousse concoction to pour over our custard.
The final result looked a lot like a trifle, and tasted a lot like a trifle that someone forgot to add the cake to as well. Since I have a number of friends who detest trifles because of the slimy cakey bits, that might initially sound hopeful, but the fact is that the whole thing just feels a bit wrong. Sure, it has that wonderful trifle look, something that surely scores points, but he proportions are all off kilter, with too much jelly and not enough custard.
Sadly, all of our diners were agreed that a plate of the constituent jelly1, fruit and custard would have been a more satisfying dessert, and would have taken considerably less effort. They can’t all be winners, I guess.
The numbers so far:
Eggs: 19 (17 separated)
Sugar: 4 5/12 cup, 8 tbsp
Butter: 3 3/4 oz, 1/4 cup, 2 tbsp (none this time)
Milk: 1 quart, 2 pints
Just maybe not souffled!