Elizabeth Raffald’s orange custards

If you feel like spoiling yourself a little, this pudding is for you – it’s delicious.  The recipe comes from the Dairy chapter in my book National Trust Simply Baking (see Books).  I took the photo a few years ago - it`s a Seville orange picker, outside Seville`s great Cathedral.        

Mrs Raffald is one of the great heroines of English cooking. Her simple, clear recipes were an instant hit when they were first published in The Experienced English Housekeeper in 1769.  She influenced many cookery writers, from her near-contemporaries Hannah Glasse and Mrs Rundell to Elizabeth David and Jane Grigson in the twentieth century. 

In the eighteenth century, sour Seville oranges would have been used for this recipe. Today, their sale is restricted to the last three weeks of January.  Mrs Raffald recommended this dish as ‘a pretty corner-dish for dinner or side-dish for supper’ whereas we would eat it for pudding.    It has a wonderful delicate orange flavour and creamy texture.

Serves 6

1 Seville orange

1 tablespoon brandy

4 medium egg yolks, strained

115g/4oz caster sugar

285ml/10 fl oz double cream

285ml/10 fl oz single cream


1  Preheat the oven to fan 130°C/gas ˝.  Line a deep roasting pan with a few sheets of kitchen paper. Place six 150ml/scant 5.5fl oz ovenproof china pots in the pan.


2  Using a potato peeler, finely pare the zest of a Seville orange.  Place in a small saucepan.  Cover with plenty of cold water.  Bring up to the boil and bubble vigorously for 5 minutes, then drain.  


3  Squeeze the juice from the orange.  Pour into a food processor, discarding any pips.  Add half the blanched orange zest, the brandy, egg yolks and sugar.  Whiz until the orange peel is finely chopped.  Scrape the mixture into a large jug. 


4  Pour the double and single cream into a small pan and scald by bringing to just below boiling point over a high heat.  Do not let the cream boil. Slowly pour a thin stream of hot cream into the egg yolk mixture, stirring all the time.  Skim off any froth and divide between the china pots. 


5 Pour enough just-boiled water into the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the pots.  Place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes, then increase the temperature to fan 140°C/gas 2 and cook for a further 30 minutes or until just set.  The custards will still wobble in the middle.  Cool slightly, before chilling in the fridge.  Once chilled, they will set to a creamy custard.


6 Cut the remaining blanched orange zest into fine shreds and keep covered in the fridge.  To serve, garnish each pot with the julienned orange zest.



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