Milk of human kindness

Categories: Reflections and opinions

For World Milk Day, Beca Lyne-Pirkis explores milk-based comfort food

When we talk about comforting foods—more specifically, desserts or puddings—that never fail to deliver a warm hug in a bowl, hot custard is usually top of the list. Sticky steamed puddings and crunchy crumbles are perfectly partnered by a large ladleful of custard. Though piping hot fruit pies also usually fall into the ‘must drown in custard’ category, in our family we tend to eat puddings with cold milk.

As odd as this may sound, there’s something very comforting to me about eating homemade apple pie with cold milk—and yes, this odd eating habit stems from childhood memories of visiting my mamgu in west Wales.

We’re not a family of pudding-eaters, apart from on a Sunday and after a roast. It probably has something to do with the fact that if the whole family is fully stuffed with a roast and a pudding then no-one will have to cook supper—although inevitably someone is always hungry at around 8pm.

Dad’s rice pudding
We usually have either my nan’s apple pie or dad’s rice pudding. When we were little, the rice pudding was relatively plain: just rice cooked in some butter, sugar and water and then 1–2 pints of milk, finished with a grating of nutmeg.

There was always a fight over who would have the skin on top of the pudding, which I never got involved in—I would rather have another spoonful of the warm, milky, sweet rice, which I would eat slowly and meticulously with a teaspoon so that I could savour every mouthful and make sure it lasted as long as possible. 

As we got older, dad would occasionally add in some marmalade and sometimes some orange liqueur. The marmalade adds a bitter sweet bite to the pudding and is very moreish. The liqueur turns an innocent childhood favourite pudding into a more grown-up version. Sometimes dad would put a little too much in and consequently send nan to sleep mid-afternoon.

Memory lane
If you fancy a trip down memory lane this weekend via a dish of milky rice pudding, please respect the pudding and use only whole milk and proper butter. If you’re having roast pork with apple sauce, make extra apple sauce so that you can add a spoonful to your rice pudding—the tartness complements the sweet milky pudding perfectly.

Read Beca’s recipes for marmalade rice pudding and the ultimate milkshake