Yes, this is a pudding made of pasta. And before you dismiss the idea, I have two words for you: rice pudding. That is one of the all-time classic British comfort food puds – a carb cooked in sweet milk until it’s so soft and light and melting that it’s impossible to resist. So really when you start to think about it, cooking little tubes of pasta in the same way starts to seem pretty appealing.
Certainly the Victorians thought so. They loved milk puddings (rice mainly but also tapioca or sago) and they were rather taken with Italian influences. Putting the two fashions together they came up with macaroni pudding.
Mrs Beeton and Eliza Acton both have recipes. In their versions the macaroni is cooked until soft and swollen in milk that’s flavoured with lemon; then it’s drained, covered in custard and served straight away. That is a pretty heavy dessert. I prefer this version given to me by Pamela McJannet in Scotland – she uses less macaroni and adds whipped egg whites to lighten it up before baking in a slow oven.
Pamela used to make this family recipe – from her Grannie in London – for her kids when they were small and then recently gave it another go for a family Sunday lunch. Apparently, “all the girls liked it but my sons-in-law didn’t – they thought it quite weird. You can’t please everyone!”. I think that just tells us you have to come to this pudding with an open mind.
Lemon Macaroni Pudding (recipe from Pamela McJannet)
30g granulated sugar
1 pint full fat milk
2 eggs – separated
Grated rind of a lemon
1. Gently cook the macaroni in the milk until tender. Add the sugar, butter and lemon rind and well beaten egg yolks. Stir mixture on a very low heat but do not allow to boil.
2. Whisk the egg whites until stiff. Fold them into the macaroni mixture and then gently turn it into a greased pie dish. Bake in a slow oven (150C) for 20 – 25 minutes.
Pamela’s son’s recollection of having this as a child sums it up pretty well: “Comforting… and the topping was TASTY!”.