Not even when it is one made by my aunt… the world’s best Christmas Pudding maker, ever.
All that love, skill and years of practice to make a lovely pudding …. you need to use it up to the last crumb. And what better way than by making it into the Boxing Day favourite pudding… ice cream.
Mr Bird, a Birmingham chemist, had a wife who was allergic to eggs but adored custard so he invented the world famous Bird’s Custard Powder. It uses cornflour to thicken and is a staple ingredient in most British kitchens. I use it when I can’t make real egg custard – for example for those who are allergic or intolerant and those who may be unwell and it isn’t advised that they eat egg yolks.
It makes a perfectly lovely custard though and generations of people have grown up on it. I still think a real custard is best but needs must and all that.
You combine the powder in a bowl with some sugar – two tablespoons of each.
Then stir in some cold liquid… I am looking for a lovely, rich effect so I am adding cream
… maybe a couple more tablespoons of the cream, stirred in to make a smooth paste.
I like to add vanilla, as I would if I was doing the custard with eggs. You can use a teaspoonful of extract
Or, if you like the look of vanilla seeds, you can use the paste
In the meantime, I have a pint or so of milk heating on the hob. Once it reaches boiling… well, once it gets those tiny bubbles round the side of the pan that are the warning it is just about to explode into a bubbling, overflowing pan of scalding milk…then you add that to the bowl and stir it smooth
You need to add it slowly and stir it round gently.. a smooth paste at first and then getting thinner and and more custard like.
Once it is smooth, pour it back into the pan and heat through to boiling again. It thickens and becomes…. custard!
You can see how it leaves a trail when you dribble a spoonful over the surface….
All you need to do now is put it into a clean bowl and leave to cool. I do this the night before and leave it in the fridge over night.
That’s handy… because if you you are using an ice cream maker, you need to have the bowl chilling in the freezer. Of course, there are some incredibly fancy machines that have their own freezing unit built in… but why spend hundreds of pounds when an ordinary machine can be had for around £30?
You can do this without a machine as well, you know. You just put the custard mix into a plastic box, clip the lid on and freeze it. You just have to keep opening the box and stirring it round with a fork to stop the ice crystals from turning the custard into a solid block.
My machine is a simple one… you put the bowl in the freezer
and the next day, connect the lid,
with the paddle and the motorised bit,
set it away to whirr and pour the chilled mixture down the hole in the lid…
It whirrs away for maybe ten minutes or so, thickening and freezing.
You can see the change happening. Once it starts to get really thick and look like it is freezing, get your added extras ready.
You break up your cold, left over Christmas pudding and drop bits of it down the hole so it sets into the freezing mix. Don’t do it too soon because you don’t want it to dissolve – you need bits of it running through the mix.
I also like to add little nuggets of brandy butter. They stay whole, too and make a surprising litle burst of soft booziness. I don’t think you are in any danger of getting drunk on it, but leave it out if you think it wouldn’t be suitable.
See how economical you are being? Using up any leftovers like this?
I suppose the fact that I was hiding the brandy butter to make sure there was some for the ice cream is neither here nor there.
Within a minute or so you are ready to serve it up….. I might have poured some brandy cream over it as well….
It was left over, OK? I was trying to use it all up!
But it doesn’t end there…..
What should have been a respectable portion for each of us somehow seemed to be not enough after all.
I admit we were all feeling rather jolly. It was J’s birthday dinner and we did deserve to spoil ourselves.
The freezer bowl was called for and spoons were dug in
In fact, we all dug in.
Sign of a succesful pudding then, don’t you think?