OPINION: What's the perfect pudding to serve for the Queen?

Could you design the winning dish for the Queen's Platinum Jubilee?

Could you design the winning dish for the Queen's Platinum Jubilee? - Credit: PA

Entries opened on Monday for the Jubilee pudding competition, in which the British public is being challenged to come up with a dessert fit for a Queen to celebrate our monarch’s Platinum Jubilee (that’s 70 years on the throne) later this year.

Budding bakers hoping to find a place in history have until February 4 to come up with a suitable dish and send in their entry. The winning pud will be served to the Queen at a Jubilee party, and could well end up becoming a part of British culinary heritage – just as coronation chicken did when it was devised in by Le Cordon Bleu to mark the coronation in 1953.

Coronation chicken is a nod to the colonial history which was still very recent in the 1950s. The addition of curry powder to the very British ingredients of chicken and salad cream was an early example of multi-culturalism, in a Britain which was still overwhelmingly white and monocultural.

How the country has changed, and it will be interesting to see what kind of dish takes the prize.

One hopes it will properly reflect what you would hope Britain represents in 2022: diverse, accepting, tolerant and outward-looking. Certainly if the Jubilee dessert is true to what we eat as a nation today, it will bring in influences from all sorts of different cultures.

The competition is being run by posh retailer Fortnum & Mason and judged by the likes of Dame Mary Berry, so the traditional will probably be in favour. Let’s hope they have the courage to pick something which really speaks to contemporary Britain.

But given the state of the nation right now, here are a few suggestions from me about which pudding could properly represent the country that Her Maj finds herself reigning over.

Eton Mess
As good a two word descriptor of how we are being governed as you could ask for. Originally offered in the public school’s tuck shop (clearly penny chews were for the plebs), this mixture of strawberries, crushed meringue and cream is a summer favourite. And the perfect metaphor for the state of the UK today – a mess, created largely by Eton old boys.

Roger Hickman's Eton mess dessert Picture: Andy Newman

Roger Hickman's Eton mess dessert Picture: Andy Newman - Credit: Archant

Banana Loaf
Not the most exciting pudding, but something which our monarch’s subjects have experienced in volume during the lockdowns of the past two years. If ever you wanted a dish which screamed ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’, this is it.

Queen of Puddings
The obvious choice, this is a quintessentially British dessert made of a bread base soaked in custard, fruit, and meringue. It originated in Wales in the 17th century as a dish for the poor (it used up leftover food and stale bread), so it’s the perfect choice for Foodbank Britain.

Spotted Dick
Just because you’d love to force a Palace flunky to have to announce this to the Queen. Incidentally, the ‘dick’ part of the name derives from the old English for ‘dough’, not what you were thinking.

Apple Crumble
This might surprise you, but in a 2019 survey of Britain’s favourite pudding, it was apple crumble which topped the poll, with Victoria sponge, carrot cake, jelly and bread and butter pudding making up the top five.

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If we wanted to celebrate the fact that Britain is still just about a democracy (although according to the Democracy Index, the UK doesn’t even make the top ten most democratic countries in Europe and languishes just below Uruguay in world terms), maybe going for the most popular dessert would be the way to go.

Nelson Cake
Also known as Norfolk bread pudding, this is surely the one which should be chosen if the Queen is to celebrate the Jubilee at Sandringham, here in Norfolk.

Named after (flawed) Norfolk hero Admiral Horatio Nelson, and once a common site on the shelves of the county’s bakeries, it is like a lighter version of bread and butter pudding, flavoured with dried fruit, nutmeg and marmalade. What better way to celebrate the Jubilee.

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