More than Vegemite sandwiches and the smell of mandarin peel, this recipe reminds me of my school lunches as a kid. There was always a piece of this ‘pudding’ in my pink lunch box. The pudding in the title speaks of the texture of what I would really describe as a very moist cake.
This is my mother’s recipe and it comes originally from a Swiss neighbour Elsbeth. I spent many hours as a child standing on a tall bread tin in Elsbeth’s kitchen, helping her roll out pastry and I’m sure, getting in the way. It was in this little kitchen, in their wooden house on the hill, that I got a feel for baking. There was always strawberry Burcher muesli in her fridge, a tart in production and on the bench in a little dish, the empty silver butter packets ready for greasing baking tins.
The recipe I have for this pudding is a list of ingredients and a three-word method that I’ve been following since I was a teenager. I’ve written out an extended, exact version for all of you. You can make this with raisins instead of sultanas and any nut you prefer. We have sweet, fresh and cheap almonds readily available from the Mediterranean Wholesaler on Sydney Rd, so almonds are always turning up in recipes.
Don’t be afraid of how moist this pudding is (give it an extra 10 to 20 minutes in the oven if you’re worried). It improves dramatically after a day in the fridge, becoming dense as the subtle flavours meld together. The important thing is just to make sure there are no lumps in the semolina, but if you add it gradually to the hot milk, and whisk it in fast you’ll have no problems. When you add the lemon zest, your kitchen should smell beautiful.
Sarah and I baked this in a kitchen filled with autumn afternoon sunlight. One of those lingeringly warm days that instead of threatening winter, echo summer. Eating a piece I’m reminded of hot school lunchtimes, and the rhythmic chant of times tables runs into my head.
4 cups of milk
1 cup of semolina
lemon zest from one medium sized lemon, grated
½ cup of almonds, chopped
½ cup of sultanas
25 grams of butter
¼ cup honey
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
2 free range eggs
Pre-heat oven to 180C and grease a 21cm springform tin.
Separate the eggs, and beat egg yolks til just frothy. Bring the milk to boiling point (can also use one cup water, three cups milk), on a low heat. Whisk in semolina a little at a time to ensure there are no lumps. Take off heat. To this warm mixture add the nuts, sultanas and lemon zest.
In a small pot melt the butter. Take off the heat. Add the honey, vanilla extract and egg yolks to the butter. Mix well, and stir into the semolina mixture.
Beat egg whites until stiff. Fold into the semolina mixture. Pour into springform tin and bake for an hour, or until firm.
Serve with cream or Mascarpone.