The weather is cold and dreich, your feet and hands are cold, and water has seeped down the neck of your jacket. It’s well past lunch, but not yet dinner time. What can you make that’s quick, warming and delicious to give you a lift? In our case, the answer is hasty pudding. Our recipe is based on one from the mid-1700s. Melt a tablespoon of butter in a large pan over a moderate heat, then beat in four tablespoons of plain flour. Beat well until the sides of the saucepan come clean and the flour resembles breadcrumbs. Cook for about five minutes or until the flour yellows, but don’t allow it to brown.
Gradually whisk in a pint of very hot full-cream milk and a well-beaten egg. I find it works best if the egg is whisked in when about two-thirds of the milk has been added. Work out any lumps, keep scraping the bottom of the pan and continue cooking until the pudding resembles a thick but pourable batter. Whisk in one of: half a teaspoon of vanilla essence, half a teaspoon of rosewater or a teaspoon of elderflower cordial. Then whisk in two tablespoons of caster sugar.
Pour the hot pudding into a cold, buttered basin and immediately dot with small scraps of butter. In advance, grind up two tablespoons of caster sugar and a teaspoon of cinnamon in a mortar until it becomes a very fine powder.
Spoon a thick layer of this powder over the hot pudding and knobs of butter. Allow to sit for a couple of minutes while the butter and sugar/cinammon mixture melt.
Spoon the pudding out into plates and enjoy. It goes particularly well with black coffee into which has been stirred a good dash of whisky and a teaspoon of demerara sugar. Then head back outside and work it all off!