Friday, August 13, 2010

Chipping Campden and The Pudding Club’s Blackberry Exeter

Before leaving on my England trip, I came upon a list of the most beautiful villages in England. Remarkably, quite a few of them were on my route. Bibury was the first I visited and it won my heart. Now I knew this list was solid gold (or at least whoever wrote it had similar tastes to mine). Then there was Lacock… also a perfect gem of a village. Chipping Campden was the last one I stopped at and, true to the advertising, it was a beautiful village filled with the nicest people and lovely places to stay. How can you not want to visit a place where stone fences have no hard corners so sheep (the source of the wealth for the town as it was for Bibury) wouldn’t snag their fleece as they were taken from place to place (the term wool gathering comes from picking up snagged wool--you look like you are noodling around when you are in fact gleaning!)?The word Chipping comes from the old English Ceping that means market and true to its name, leading citizen Baptist Hick’s 1627 Market Hall takes pride of place in the center of town.


Interior of Market Hall

The city was a hub for the Arts and Crafts movement in the early 20th century. You can certainly see the effect the village would have, it is an omphalos of that style.

There are so many perfectly preserved buildings… everything from the 16th century market in the center of town to the 15th century church and all the thatched roof houses (the thatch being improbably thick and luxuriant with fancy crown tops in a style particular to the area – my great regret was that I was driving and couldn’t take photos of these extraordinary thatched roofs!).

This was a healthy, wealthy and vivid little town that never lost its charm. Its most prosperous citizen, 16th century silk merchant Sir Baptist Hicks, built many important structures that dot the town, even though his own 1613 house was destroyed during the Civil War in 1645 (to keep the revolutionaries from staying there). What remains on the estate, the 2 Jacobean Banqueting houses and 2 ‘pepperpot” lodges at the entry gate, have been restored and are extraordinary. You can even book a night’s stay in one of them through the National Trust! Ivan Day at Historic Food did a spectacular recreation of a table as it might have appeared during the heyday of the house using period cookbooks (did I mention he is a master in antique techniques and teaches courses during the year on the subject at his place in the Lake District that I can't wait to take!!!).

The other thing that this gorgeous little village has nearby is The Three Ways House Hotel.

The Pudding Club was created twenty-five years ago at this hotel in 1985. The idea of the club was to “prevent the demise of the traditional great British pudding.” What began as a charming notion has spawned a cookbook, The Pudding Club Book: Luscious Recipes from the Pudding Club and even sells 6 ready-made puddings under the Pudding Club label (available at markets in Britain) .

The hotel hosts Pudding Club events, tastings and dinners and its rooms now have pudding names like “The Spotted Dick and Custard Room” (ahem!) where you can stay when you are in Chipping Campden. I missed it when I was there this summer, (it is slightly out of town) but look forward to giving it a try next time I am there since the place looks like fun and the restaurant gets high marks.

One of the puddings on the Pudding Club site is called Blackberry Exeter. I loved the idea of apples and blackberries with my favorite custard sauce. Served warm, it had a luscious, melting texture and the golden scented pool of cool custard flavored with rose geranium and madeira was a delicious complement. The one thing I learned is that the inside shrinks a bit and it’s a good idea to have extra blackberries to fill up the spaces if you are particular about the presentation. I also found that you should try to make the sides as even as possible and take care that there is enough pastry at the bottom so it doesn’t collapse when you un-mold it. May I add it's also great reheated in the microwave!!

Blackberry Exeter with Custard Sauce from the Pudding Club

2 C self-raising flour (2 c flour plus 1 ½ t. baking soda) I used 1 ½ c white and ½ c whole wheat
½ c shredded or grated suet ( or 1/2 c butter or vegetable shortening if you would like added in small bits)
a pinch of salt
2 T milk
Water to mix (around ½ c)


1 cup chopped apple
1 cup blackberries
2 T maple syrup
3 c bread crumbs
3 T butter
¼ c honey
¼ t. nutmeg

Mix suet with the flour and add enough water to make a stiff dough make 2 pieces, 2/3 for bottom and 1/3 for top and chill. Roll out and line a greased 1.1 liter (6 c.) pudding basin. Try to make it as even as possible leaving the edges flopping over the edge of the bowl.

For the filling, combine the breadcrumbs, butter and honey and nutmeg. Combine the fruit and maple syrup and put ½ into the basin, then add half the bread crumbs and then the rest of the fruit and the rest of the crumbs. Put the lid on the basin and close it up as well as you can … wetting the edges for the best adhesion.

Take a piece of parchment and creating a fold in the center (and squaring the rectangle to make it stronger), cover the dish. Put a piece of aluminum foil over that. Using a rubber band, secure the parchment and foil as snugly as possible. Place the pudding in a pot of boiling water with a rack at the bottom ( or crumpled foil), the water going about 2/3 up the bowl and steam at a low simmer for 2-3 hours) The pastry will not be soggy but firm… kind of amazing!

My Favorite Custard Sauce

2 c milk (to make it richer, 1 ½ c milk and ½ c cream)
4 egg yolks, beaten
¼ c sugar
1 or 2 rose geranium leaves (optional)
½ t vanilla
2 T maple syrup
2 T Madeira (Rare Wine Co. Savannah Verdelho)

Warm the milk, beat the yolks and sugar till golden and add the hot milk to temper the yolks and put back in the pan with the geranium leaves over a low flame or a double boiler for 8-10 minutes. Strain. Add the vanilla, maple syrup and Madeira or Scotch and serve with the pudding.

Thanks to Gollum for hosting Foodie Friday!

Also, I wanted to tell you about my friend Tracy Nasca's Cookbook. It was made for a good cause and the profits go to Sleep Research. Do stop by and give the Pay It Forward/Talk About Sleep Cookbook a look. Many people involved in the field donated precious family recipes that are sure to please.

Go HERE to order


Diane said...

Fantastic photos of the the old buildings so typical of the UK. My husband would really enjoy this pudding:) Diane

funkiefoodie said...

My daughter is visiting from London next week and this "pudding" of yours is one I'd be sure to impress her with as part of an English breakfast! What fun traveling through those villages, you never really know exactly what you'll see!

Medieval Muse said...

How can anyplace BE that beautiful? Thank you so much for your inspiring posts of delights for all the senses:)

SavoringTime in the Kitchen said...

I think the thatched roof cottages are so charming! The detail on some of them is amazing.

What a delicious recipe and another wonderful history lesson.

April@The 21st Century Housewife said...

Oh my, what a lovely recipe! And you've taken some super photos on your visit - I love the thatched cottages.

tasteofbeirut said...

And I thought the little village I stayed in Derbyshire was the cutest; I got to admit this one has more grandeur; that pudding is so dainty and I love the goodies inside! What a wonderful trip I am taking with you through England :))

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

Oh dear, everything here is a fairytale and dearest, my dear friend from Los Angeles lived in England and was totally transformed; she would make the loveliest summer puddings and what a sweet treat....thank you for coming on over today for a taste of orange and vanilla! Oh how I love crème anglaise with orange rind! ENJOY THE WEEKEND! Anita

Deana Sidney said...

FoodFun>Thanks, It is a good pudding, I bet hubby will love it!
Powderate>It is hard capturing the heart of a place in a few words and photos... I guess I want to encourage people to visit there or learn more... they are such magical places and you can't capture an experience like that...only give a wisp of a suggestion of loveliness and history.
MedievalMuse> They are that beautiful, I want everyone not to miss visiting there... I love armchair travels, don't you? I used to have a file I saved of great articles about places that I need to visit... time to start that over again!
Savoring>I was crazy about those roofs... next time I want to spend a whole afternoon taking photos of them!
April> it is a good recipe and so... English. The American idea of pudding shows up in the sauce not in the crust!
Taste of Beirut> You know there are so many magical villages in England... each a little different and such a pleasure to visit. Time stops.
Castles> They are like fairytale places.. that is what is so wonderful about them. And the pudding... I could drink that custard!!!

Sarah said...

I was in Exeter a million years ago and also Chipping Camden. Makes me yearn for those trips. Great post.

Anonymous said...

Fascinating historical photos of the buildings and this dessert sounds absolutely heavenly with blackberries and custard!

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

That's brilliant! I want a house with a room called “The Spotted Dick and Custard Room"! :P Lovely looking pudding Deana! Isn't it funny how all dessert is called "pudding"! :P

Mary Bergfeld said...

What a perfectly lovely pudding. Your photos today are really terrific and perfectly capture the time and place. I hope you have a wonderful day. Blessings...Mary

Stella said...

Ooh Deana, the English villages are something from a fairy tale-so nice! And this pudding looks so delicious. My Mom and Cauldron Boy were looking at it when I first pulled up your post-moaning and groaning at the photos (smile). I like that there is a club trying to preserve Old English puddings and such-that's a noble cause for sure!
p.s. Custard sauce is yummerz;)...

Becky said...

That looks heavenly, though I'm a bit sad we didn't get the spotted dick. Maybe next time? ;)

Ana Powell said...

I can see you had a great time in England.
I must admit, England is quite special.
Lovely post.
Well done on all your awards.
Wishing you a great weekend ♥

Deana Sidney said...

All our fingers> I had never been there so it was quite a treat. There wasn't enough time to see all that I wanted!
5star> I loved the old photos... interesting to see how little/much changes!
Lorraine>in the US we call a creamy custard stuff pudding... it does take a little getting used to!
Mary> the pudding is a classic!
Stella> they are so like a fairytale... but the custard sauce is a favorite of mine... rose geranium is an underused herb... very sweet and spectacular and the plant scents the room all winter if you live in a place with cold seasons...I hadn't had one in a while... so pleased to have gotten one (thanks for the inspiration Sarah!)
Becky> spotted dick is a serious pudding... when the weather gets colder....
Ana> I did love my trip the people and the place are wonderful! Awards???

CC11 said...

Such gorgeous towns!

and an even more gorgeous pudding interior - what an awesome fruity surprise!

Stella said...

Hey Deana, the real fruit agar jello is so refreshing and especially wonderful when one uses their favorite juice(s). We really appreciated it here, as the Florida sun is so strong in the summer. It's also a good way to sate a sweet craving too...!?
Hope you have a relaxing day tomorrow.

Ju (The Little Teochew) said...

Oh WOW, Deana! The thatched roof, that dining table, that azure sky, that pudding! Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous!

Marjie said...

I watch the wonderful British mysteries on Masterpiece Theatre as much for the scenery as the excellent writing. I'm so glad I've found pictures of the real place! Thanks for sharing our tour of England with us.

Faith said...

What an absolutely charming little village! Pudding Club events sound like fun -- and that pudding is gorgeous!

Anonymous said...

what a great post.

Lazaro Cooks said...

Some amazing photos. Surely a trip I'd want to make. Lovely use of fresh fruits.

Rachana said...

Beautiful photos! The pudding looks absolutely gorgeous and yumm!

Unknown said...

I love the idea of the pudding club. You rarely see those kind of puddings in the UK now. I am not sure why. I don't know if they are too much work, or they just went out of fashion, but when I look how beautiful yours is, I am amazed they aren't in more restaurants. The inside of that pudding is so pretty!
*kisses* HH

Dee said...

This pudding is truly beautiful. I have not made a true pudding of this type in more years than I can remember. Seems like the only people I've met recently who enjoyed them were Brits, far from home. This one looks so fresh with the berries. The photos are marvelous. Bravo, you have made me want to make a pudding once again. Your trip looks as if it was wonderful.

sweetlife said...

I was on vacation, and I missed your post, great pudding and blacknberries are perfect right now..I love the pics of the villages, lovely


Anna Johnston said...

I love your stories, as they are so much more than a post, your introducing me to parts of UK I absolutely have to return just to visit and the puddings.... its a meal in itself a great English Pud, but this one is a real keeper. I do wish we had such an abundance of affordable berries at hand, because they truly are the bees knees for these types of puddings.

From the Kitchen said...

I've enjoyed my visit with you in England over morning coffee. Wonderful photos!! And the pudding--oh my! Thanks for sharing the "trip" and the pudding.


Sue said...

Oh My! I am in pudding heaven. This looks a fantastic dessert. I often do suet steamed puddings in winter (the usual syrupy ones) but this is a lovely take on our late summer harvest fruits. Thanks for the recipe!

Joanne said...

It's amazing how quaint these places still are. Stuff like that doesn't really exist here in the US.

Oh I love puddings and this one looks more than fantastic. It looks like a dream!