Rhubarb & Ginger Puddings

I started making little upside-down fruity puddings when we had a glut of over-ripe pears last autumn. I was really chuffed to have found an easy way to make the best of any fruit that’s a little past its best. Any supporter of the Love Food Hate Waste campaign should definitely make this dish part of their repertoire.

Eating with the seasons means making the best of what nature is creating. Rhubarb is one of the first fruity things to arrive in our gardens and allotments in the spring, and it’s great to harvest a stick or two for tea. But if you’re not careful you can end up with a freezer full of the stuff. If a friend arrives on your doorstep with a bouquet of rhubarb, before you think ‘freezer’, think ‘pudding’. These little pink puds’ have a scent of ginger that’s like a warm hug.

50g soft butter

50g caster sugar

1 free range egg

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 tablespoon maple syrup

50g self raising flour

2 medium sticks rhubarb

Cream the butter and sugar together, then gradually add the beaten egg and maple syrup. Fold in the flour and ground ginger.

Chop the rhubarb into short pieces and cook, covered, for a couple of minutes in a splash of boiling water, until softened but not falling to pieces.

Grease four ramekins or oven-proof cups and divide the rhubarb between them. Cover the rhubarb with the sponge mixture. Leave some room for the mixture to rise! Put the ramekins on a baking tray to catch any overflow, and bake at 180C/Gas Mark 4 for 15-20 minutes, until risen, golden and cooked through. Let the puds cool a little before turning them out onto warmed plates, and, if the rhubarb is really tart, sprinkle with some crunchy brown sugar.

For a special occasion, serve with whisky cream. Whip three tablespoons of double cream with a teaspoon of caster sugar and a teaspoon of whisky until light and a bit bubbly – this is best done in a large bowl. Garnish your serving plates with finely chopped crystalised ginger and ginger syrup.

This is one of those recipes that is almost infinitely adaptable; how about apple and pear puds’ with some chopped walnuts, or elegant lemon puds’, dredged in icing sugar and toasted flaked almonds? Or moist apricot puds’ with a snifter of apricot brandy? Change the ginger for vanilla, or use that rose geranium sugar you made last summer. Chop in some chunks of white chocolate and pistachios…

If these puddings become a favourite, invest in some non-stick ramekins. Baking is more fun when you don’t have to worry about it all going sticky at the last minute.

Jane Hughes is editor of The Vegetarian magazine, for The Vegetarian Society.