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When it comes to puddings, SAM WOULIDGE knows only one language - her mother's tongue

I like puddings. I particularly like traditional Afrikaans puddings. For while my heart may be evenly divided into two (English father, Afrikaans mother), when it comes to puddings, I don't believe the English stand a chance. For me, malvapoeding will always trump sticky toffee pudding. Syrupy souskluitjies will always be preferable to spotted dick. Bread-and-butter pudding is comforting and apple crumble is nice, but they're no match for sweet cinnamon-infused melkkos. But, most importantly, the English don't have buttermilk pudding. And the Afrikaners do. Battle won.

Buttermilk pudding, or karringmelk pudding, if it is to be referred to by its cultural name, is the pudding I grew up with. It's a subtle dairy-based pudding that's lighter and less sweet than the usual baked puddings served around tables where Afrikaans is spoken. But that is rectified by the addition of various syrups or fruit preserves. It is a pudding that rises to a golden puff, but soon deflates with a sad sigh if not given immediate attention and adoration. As a child, I adorned it with Golden Syrup and vanilla ice-cream. The heat of the pudding melted the ice-cream and I loved how the temperatures and flavors - cold, hot, sweet, slightly tart - felt and tasted.

Description: The Proof Of The Pudding

The Proof Of The Pudding

It is also the first pudding I learned to make as a newlywed. While my cooking skills were rudimentary, I knew I could always make a buttermilk pudding and with the voice of my mother ringing in my ear, "Sif hoog, suster, sifhoog" (Sift high, sister), I would recreate the dessert of my childhood.

I believe that karringmelk pudding should be celebrated. One rainy Sunday afternoon, I invited a few Afrikaans friends; creative, talented, well-adapted-to-the-city-types, to witness the pudding coming out of the oven at 5 pm. At the appointed hour A fire burned and on the dining room table were candles in colored Murano bowls, treasured crystal glasses and small vintage goblets of chilled dessert wine. The fragrance of baking permeated the air. The pudding came out of the oven, fluffy and golden and I knew she would behave beautifully fore minute or two before she tired of the fussing and sulkily slipped back into the dish. I had, of course, put Golden Syrup on the table, but because we were all grown up and apparently sophisticated, I'd made a rooibos-and-clementine syrup too. And so amid the laughter, creative energy and happy conversation on that cold Sunday afternoon, we ate karringmelk pudding and were sustained by the reminder of our roots.

Buttermilk Pudding with Rooibos-and-Clemengold Syrup

I found this recipe in a fabulous book called Aan Tafel met Nettie Pikeur by Madelein Roux. It comes from the chapter titled 'Mans is Mai oorPoeding' (Men are crazy about pudding). I have two treasured copies of this book as one was given to me by my mother and the other by my mother-in-law. Great minds thinking alike and all that... The syrup is my version of Phillippa Cheifitz's recipe from her beautiful book South Africa Eats.

Description: Buttermilk Pudding with Rooibos-and-Clemengold Syrup

Buttermilk Pudding with Rooibos-and-Clemengold Syrup

Serves 6

Preparation: 20 minutes

Baking: 45 minutes

·         Butter 2 T, softened, plus extra for greasing

·         Sugar 150g

·         Free-range eggs 3, separated

·         Self-rising flour 150 g, sifted

·         Salt a pinch

·         Buttermilk 2 cups

For the rooibos-and-ClemenGold syrup:

·         ClemenGolds or naartjies 2 sugar 200 g

·         Rooibos tea 2 cups (I like to make mine strong)

·         Cinnamon 1 stick

·         Star anise 2

·         Honey 2T

·         Lemon juice 2T

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Mix the softened butter and sugar well. Beat the egg yolks and add to the butter and sugar mixture, then add the flour and salt.
  2. Add the buttermilk and mix well.
  3. Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form, and then fold into the batter. Pour into a greased ovenproof dish and bake for 45 minutes. Serve with the rooibos-and-ClemenGold syrup.
  4. To make the syrup, peel the ClemenGolds and scrape the pith from the peel (set aside the segments for later use). Boil the peel, sugar, rooibos tea, cinnamon and star anise for 15 to 20 minutes. Add the honey and lemon juice and simmer for a further 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the reserved ClemenGold segments. Allow to cool, then strain the mixture to remove the segments, peel and spices and refrigerate. (Don't throw the ClemenGold segments away as you'll want to eat the syrup-infused half-moons to reward yourself for your fervent domesticity.)

Fat-conscious

Wine: Badsberg Red Muscadel 2011

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