On Saturday 8th December I attended my third Missies Pud Inn (once again I can’t believe how quickly the three months since the last Pud Inn have flown by!). So far I’ve eaten 5 chocolate-themed puds and 5 party-themed puds, all of which were fantastic. As a result, it was hard to think that better puds could be out there but I had a sneaking suspicion that as the theme for this Pud Inn was Christmas, I wasn’t going to be disappointed. I was right.
Our five Sheffield-based bakers this time were Lee Simon Mangles (Creative Chef at Silversmith’s), Lin Cheung (Cindy’s mum, who kindly stepped in at short notice when one of the other bakers became ill), Missies Pud Inn regular chef, Mike Smith (also head chef at the Rutland Arms), bakers from the Honey Pie Tearoom, and Ian Martin (from PJ Taste).
|'Christmas' Missies Pud Inn Menu (Reproduced from the Missie Cindz website)|
From my first look at the menu, the first course sounded perfect, the second intriguing, and the third even more intriguing (who’s ever heard of a Christmas tree as a dessert?). The fourth course sounded appealing as I’ve only tried trifle once or twice before and it’s never been homemade. I wasn’t sure what to think of the final course as I’ve never been a big Christmas Pudding fan, but I knew that anything coming out of the PJ Taste kitchen would be good.
|Table 2, ready with scoring sheets and Christmas treat boxes for each of the diners|
For this particular Pud Inn Mat was my ‘plus one’ so we got ourselves a bottle of wine when we arrived at the Rutland and headed upstairs to settle in for a festive foodie afternoon, where we met our table mates, Kayleigh and Dan, and said a quick hello to Cindy and Hannah who were busy seating people, getting the ‘Not-so-secret-Santa treats table’ ready, and helping with the first course.
|Lee Simon Mangles preparing his course of 'Mulled Pear and Chocolate Tart served with Almond Scented Pannacotta' (Photo by Mat Robinson)|
The first course of the afternoon was ‘Mulled Pear and Chocolate Tart served with Almond Scented Pannacotta’, made by Lee Simon Mangles from Silversmiths in Sheffield, who luckily for me didn’t mind me taking lots of photos and asking lots of questions about this delicious start to the event.
Chocolate tart is one of my favourite desserts – if it’s on a menu when I eat out then it takes something pretty spectacular to get me to pass on it. I also love pears so this pudding combining the two was, unsurprisingly, always going to be popular with me. However having said that, I’m quite fussy when it comes to tarts, especially in regards to the pastry, so I was still hoping for something that was going to meet expectations.
I needn’t have worried, Lee’s dessert was nothing short of delicious and everything on the plate had been produced perfectly. The pears had been poached in mulled wine and the pastry was flavoured with orange zest, cinnamon and nutmeg, giving the whole dish a subtle Christmassy flavour. The chocolate filling was smooth and not too rich, and the accompanying almond scented pannacotta was creamy and just the right size. The tart was also served with a pear crisp, a thin slice of pear that had been dipped in mulled wine syrup before being baked in the oven. This was the perfect finishing touch as far as I was concerned; it added a crunchy texture to the course and was very sweet and full of flavour.
|Mulled Pear and Chocolate Tart served with Almond Scented Pannacotta (Photo by Mat Robinson)|
The second course of the day – ‘Snowy’ Taro Tapioca Pearl Pudding - was made by Cindy’s mum, Lin, and was a traditional Chinese soup-based dessert. This was quite different to anything I’ve eaten before but was really nice to try. In some ways it was like a really sweet rice pudding but with a texture that reminded me of popping bubble wrap!
|'Snowy' Taro Tapioca Pearl Pudding|
The final course before the interval was the much-anticipated ‘Christmas Tree’ by The Rutland Arms’ very own Chef Mike. I’d heard rumours that this dish had caused a few sleepless nights so I knew it would be something special but I don’t think any of us quite expected what Hannah brought through the door.
|Chef Mike's 'Christmas Tree' dessert (Photo by Mat Robinson)|
Individual ‘Christmas Trees’ for each table, made from a huge pile of profiteroles topped with spun sugar/caramel cages and pink macaroons for baubles. There were three types of profiterole; white chocolate dipped profiteroles with Baileys cream filling, dark chocolate dipped profiteroles with whipped cream filling, and white and dark chocolate-topped profiteroles with a custard cream filling. The pastry was perfect, each type of cream was delicious and it was nice to have a mix of different types of chocolate. The macaroons were easily the nicest macaroons I’ve ever tasted; light, sweet and exactly the right texture.
I didn’t want to ruin something so beautiful but Mat and Dan didn’t have the same problem, they were both keen to get stuck in! This worked out well for me in the end, as once the first blow had been struck to the spun sugar/caramel cage I was happy to grab a few profiteroles and my share of the cage and macaroons. Everything tasted as good as it looked and the round of applause given to Chef Mike by the entire room was without doubt well deserved.
|The Broadfield's Hannah, Pud Inn Hostess Cindy, and The Rutland Arms' Chef Mike tuck into a Cristmas Tree (Photo by Mat Robinson)|
At this point we had a short break, in theory to give ourselves time to recover from the first three courses. Mat and I used this as a chance to get another bottle of wine (well, it was Christmas…) and to pinch a few things from the treats table to put in a box to enjoy at home later. The treats table had an amazing array of cakes, biscuits and chocolate-y goodies all made and donated by Cindy, the Pud Inn diners and Rutland Arms owner, Andy, and there were some absolutely delicious bits and pieces on offer. Possibly my favourite at the time was the huge piece of brie that Cindy had bought, along with Cat Lane Bakery bread and the chutney that she has produced this year with PJ Taste. I love these things anyway, but they almost acted as a palate cleanser that afternoon, being such a contrast to the three sweet courses that we’d just eaten.
I had attempted to make a gingerbread house for the occasion, but due to experimenting with a new recipe this arrived at the Pud Inn as a flat-pack gingerbread house. (Obvious Tip: if you have a recipe that works, don’t start experimenting with others!)
|Hannah preparing to serve Course 4, Granny Vera's Christmas Trifle|
Following the interval, we were served course number four, ‘Granny Vera’s Christmas Trifle’ made by the Honey Pie Tearoom. Each one was served in an individual tea cup and looked very pretty topped with cream, chocolate sprinkles, chocolate sweets and a milk chocolate coin coated in edible gold lustre.
|Granny Vera's Christmas Trifle (Photo by Mat Robinson)|
After not really knowing whether I’d be that keen on this course (having only had supermarket trifle a couple of times before and never having had homemade trifle), I actually loved it and it’s made me quite the trifle fan! The raspberry layer was quite sharp but the sweetness of the cake, custard and cream layers balanced this well. I found this course quite filling but the portion size was just right and I happily finished all of mine without it being too much of a struggle (maybe I’m just a pig, though!). It’s a shame that there was no one from the Honey Pie Tearoom at the event; I would’ve liked to know more about Granny Vera and who I’d need to bribe to get a copy of the recipe!
|Granny Vera's Christmas Trifle, complete with edible gold coin (Photo by Mat Robinson)|
A Christmas themed Pud Inn wouldn’t be complete without Christmas Pudding and the one we were served by Ian Martin (from PJ Taste) was particularly unique, having been made with chocolate and Guinness. This was accompanied by a delicious single malt butter, which was something new to me (I have brandy butter every Christmas but I’d never tried it with single malt). The pudding was soft and moist and full of flavour, and while I’m not normally a Christmas Pudding lover, I really enjoyed this course and it was the perfect end to the afternoon. While I didn’t get chance to talk to him much, Ian was very friendly and chatty and it was nice to have another chef that had contributed a course at the Pud Inn.
|Ian's Chocolate and Guinness Christmas Pudding with Single Malt Butter|
Mat and I were well and truly the Christmas Party stragglers, staying quite a while after the last diners had left to chat to Cindy, Hannah, Chef Mike and Andy about all things Christmas and Puddings. We had a fantastic afternoon with five delicious puddings and some great company. As usual I’m already looking forward to the next one and can’t wait to find out what the theme’s going to be.
For more information on Missies Pud Inn events you can follow Cindy on twitter (@missiecindz) or you can click here to read her write-up of the Christmas Pud Inn.
You can also follow most of the ‘Christmas’ Pud Inn bakers on twitter:
Chef Mike (@Moonlitpanda)
Honey Pie Tearoom (@HoneyPieTearoom)
Ian Martin (@chefy113)