Monmouth Pudding, South Wales
As so often with traditional dishes, no two cooks will agree about how to make Monmouth Pudding. What can be agreed upon is that this is both filling and light – similar to the classic English dessert Queen of Puddings with which too many sources confuse it (some really only changing the title). Maybe the similarity comes from Monmouth’s proximity to the border, its toes almost in England; and we can wonder if the original would have had fruit rather than jam from this lovely country corner of Wales.
Monmouth Pudding is one of those user-upper dishes that manage to be so much more: the basis is breadcrumbs, married with either jam or if the fruit is fresh and cheap – ideally from your own garden – then with raspberries, apples or plums, the last two stewed and sweetened slightly before use.
Like Queen of Puddings you begin by bringing between ¾ of a pint to a pint of milk to nearly boiling point, adding about 2 tbsp of white sugar, about 5 - 6 oz of breadcrumbs, and the grated zest of a lemon (or a bit less if you want to tone that flavour down). Leave this to cool, then stir in the yolks of two or three eggs, beaten; follow with the beaten whites carefully folded in to keep as much air as you can. Queen of Puds of course has a soft meringue mixture on top, and requires two-stage cooking – Monmouth Pudding is at least as good and easier to time.
In a buttered pie dish spread a layer of jam or fruit, then ½ the breadcrumb mixture, another layer of jam or fruit, and finish with the last of the breadcrumbs. Bake at about 160 centigrade for half an hour or so – the top should be a nice warm brown, the pudding firmly set but not solid. Don’t give it time to get cold before serving.