Nigella Lawson Queen of Puddings Recipe

Our Favourite Dish Theatre Recipe Book Actors Orphanage

I was surprised to hear Nigella Lawson mention a Queen of Puddings Recipe in her new TV programme “At My Table”.  This is a food we used to often have at school dinners and, after I’d left home, it was frequently served in various works’ canteens I frequented!  I’d have expected a Queen of Puddings to never grace her table!  However, Nigella has done the “posh version” as she used brioche bread instead of regular breadcrumbs.  I’ve added the Food Cheats recipe at the end of this page.

Queen of Puddings is an old-fashioned English dessert.   All the past popular British cooks and chefs have cooked this at some point, Mary Berry, Delia Smith and more.  So there are plenty of variations to be found out there.

Nigella mentioned a book she was flicking through, which was “Our Favourite Dish – the Theatre Recipe Book”, compiled in 1952 by Mrs Prince Littler when she remembered Queen of Puddings. The recipe is not in that book though, it just reminded her of it.  Like many old recipe books there were no photos; it was written as a fundraising book in aid of the Actor’s Orphanage.  The ~250 recipes were provided by leading actors and actresses of the time, often leaving their signature at the end of the page where their recipe was printed.

These days you can expect to pay £10-25 for a copy of this book, second-hand, so I don’t expect many people will be rushing to buy it, especially as it doesn’t necessarily have a Queen of Puddings recipe included!  In any case, if you were after Nigella Lawson’s Queen of Puddings Recipe it was quite straight forward.

Nigella’s version of Queen of Puddings is in her new book that accompanies the TV series: At My Table: A Celebration of Home Cooking, available on Amazon UK. From there you can “Look Inside” to see the full index of over 100 recipes in the 288 page book, published on 21 September 2017, in time for the TV series to start.

A Queen of Puddings is a sweet variation on a bread pudding, with brioche bread mixed with an egg custard and baked, before being topped with a jam layer and a big soft meringue topping.

Am I going to make one?  No – a Queen of Puddings is topped by a meringue and I don’t make meringues because I’m too lazy to beat egg whites by hand, with a fork – I don’t have a stand mixer, or even a whisk – and have no intentions of building up my arm muscles to cook this, just to show you I could. 🙂  My life is about Food Cheats, not doing hard stuff that’s tiring!  I have, at the bottom, written up a quick Food Cheats’ variation to Queen of Puddings … but that meringue layer is the troublesome part that can’t be cheated on… unless you buy a tub of ready cooked crispy meringues, but the meringue in a Queen of Puddings is soft, not crispy.


  • 150 grams brioche, crumbled up into breadcrumbs (best done stale)
  • 4 eggs, separated into whites and yolks
  • 500ml full fat milk
  • 50 grams unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 25 grams caster sugar
  • zest of 1 lemon, grated
  • a pinch of salt
  • Plum jam (about 175 grams) + a little lemon juice


  1. Put the milk, butter, vanilla, sugar, salt and lemon zest into a saucepan and stir until the butter’s melted; this is the ‘custard’. Remove from the heat.
  2. Add 4 egg yolks to the milk mixture and whisk.
  3. Put the broken crumbs of brioche into a buttered baking dish.  Pour the egg/milk mix over and let it sit for 10-15 minutes or so to soak in.
  4. Bake at 170°C for 20 minutes, until it’s still tender and just set in the middle.
  5. Whisk up the four egg whites until it forms peaks, slowly add in 100 grams of the sugar.
  6. Spread a layer of jam, mixed with a little lemon juice to make it easier to spread, on top of the baked brioche, go right to the edges.
  7. Carefully dollop the meringue on top of the jam, taking it right to the edge – spend a bit of time shaping the top into peaks or swirls. Sprinkle a little extra sugar over the top (to aid browning).
  8. Bake again until the top is a light brown colour.


Food Cheats Queen of Puddings: 

If I were to make this, I’d cheat on the following steps:

  1. Buy a brioche loaf and break up 150 grams into a dish.
  2. Make up a packet of custard so it’s thinner than I’d usually make it.
  3. Pour the custard over the brioche. Let it soak in. Adjust the custard/brioche volumes by eye and bake it for 10-15 minutes at 170°C.
  4. Remove from the oven, let it cool a little, add the jam layer.  I’d use whatever jam I had.
  5. Now the troublesome meringue topping!  I’d either just top it with some Dream Topping, or with a layer of ready bought crispy meringues. No further baking with these, just toss it on and serve while the pudding is still a little warm…. or cold.

Without making a full meringue the top is a little limiting… but that can be “close enough”, it depends what this is for…. cooking for yourself, “that’ll do!”.