“The kitchen is the key to victory!”
In commemoration of 70 years since VE day, I have taken inspiration this week from tradition wartime staples that would be common place on a street party table and in the rationed home of so many families during this time of austerity.
With the help of Ministry of Food leaflets issued throughout the Second World War, ladies of the household we taught how to be incredibly frugal whilst also keeping their family sweet. Desserts and puddings were often reserved for special occasions when the limited rations could be justifiably used.
Grain, pulses and rices were often used to add sustitnence to meals, but as the women of this era became extra nifty in the kitchen, more satisfying recipes were invented. Custard pudding swiftly became a tea time staple – what we know today as rice pudding.
Made predominantly from rice and milk – or often, water and sachet eggs – this pudding become a culinary symbol of this era, and to this day is either loved or loathed by the masses. Sweetend by an increase in weekly sugar rations as well as foraged hedgerow jam, traditional rice pudding recipes have changed very little in the last 70 years.
Interestingly, along with the gradual return of troops from foreign shores came an extensive larder of new and exciting spices that are now common place in our kitchens. Cinnamon was often accompanied with nutmeg or bay, and jams and preserves were later spiced up with all spice and ginger.
Reflecting on the social and culinary influences of the war, I have given this staple pudd a twenty-first century, West Country twist – a decadent dish that gives a firm nod to the more austere times
Creamy, lightly spiced and super indulgent, this pudding is sure not to disappoint – it may even win over a few rice pudding cynics along the way!
- 700ml milk
- 100g clotted cream
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 5-6 cardamom pod
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp nutmeg
- 150g pudding rice
- 50g caster sugar
- For the compote
- 1 small apple
- 1 tbsp caster sugar
- 2-3 tbsp water
- 150g blackberries
- Place the milk, cream, cinnamon, cardamom, bay leaf and nutmeg in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and warm over a medium heat. Bring to the boil, simmer for a minute then remove from the heat. Allow the spices to infuse into the milk for about 5 minutes (ideally up to 10), then pass through a fine sieve.
- Pour the infused milk into a clean saucepan and add the rice and sugar. Cook over a medium to low heat for 30 minutes (stirring occasionally to ensure is doesn’t stick) or until the liquid has been absorbed by the rice, and a creamy yet slightly loose consistency is achieved.
- Whilst the rice is cooking, make the compote. Peel, core and dice the apple before placing in a pan along with sugar and water. Cook over a medium heat for 3-4 minutes before adding the blackberries. Allow the fruit to soften and the liquid to reduce then remove from heat and cool – this will take approx. 5 minutes.
- Once cooked, spoon the rice pudding into bowls and top with the compote and a little fresh mint. For a golden skin, spoon the rice into ovenproof ramekins and place under a low grill for a few minutes to brown, then serve with the compote.