Fanny says this is one of the leading 'bogies' for the British home cook, which Fanny herself is pleased to share solutions for in the same way she already has for meringues, Swiss Rolls and non-sinking Cherry Cakes. The stakes are high here, so before we can proceed Fanny dismisses the 'things which it is not' just so we are clear. It is NOT a mixture of eggs and milk RUINED with even a single grain of flour. Clear. It is NOT a mixture which has been baked in the oven or a Bain Marie which will end up pitted with little holes. Clear. Finally it is NOT anything which, in any circumstance whatever, is something which could taste like the real thing if it was made from a packet. Super clear - no flour, no oven and no packet mix. Just eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla and that beloved steamer.
Now that I am ready to go forth into the world of steaming, I boil the milk and remove from the heat and add some sugar and a split vanilla pod and leave to infuse for 20 minutes or so. Meanwhile I add some sugar to a little pan and heat it over the lowest possible flame until the centre liquifies and becomes brown. At this point, and not before, I can stir very gently to dissolve all the sugar before swirling it into a soufflé mould.
To whipped eggs and extra yolks I gently add the infused milk and beat it all together, gradually. It froths up a fair bit, but Fanny suggests straining it to get rid of that 'inevitable foam' so I guess I am doing it right so far. I don't want those air bubble pitting my finished dessert with little holes. Fanny would be horrified. So would I. I am learning.
As instructed, I pour the mixture over the caramel base, cover with some 'oiled papers' and a layer of tight foil. Now for the dangerous part, Fanny says. The steaming. I don't have a stove top steamer like Fannys, I have a plug in plastic version. Surely it'll do the trick though? Fanny says if the water underneath boils it will cause those nasty holes she has mentioned several times, which will result in the pudding tasting all right, but will look unappetising and worse still, unprofessional. I steam for an hour and leave it to cool before turning it out. As Fanny says, it cuts like butter as opposed to margarine and the caramel top is glossy and cascades down the sides. It tastes fantastic, and nothing like those nasty packet mixes I remember. But please don't tell Fanny about the little pock marks and holes that have appeared round the edges. The shame of it all, how very unprofessional. Perhaps if I had the proper stove top steamer? Perhaps Fanny would be pleased if I bought one? Quick, pass the spoon before Fanny notices...