Many people are put off by the idea of tapioca, ‘frog spawn’ they say, thinking back to their school days. But professed tapioca haters are converted by eating this luxurious nursery pudding. I am sure there are a lot of people like me who can’t resist good nursery food. You can vary this pudding according to the fruit available at the time of the year and also have it hot or cold to go with the weather.
Put the fruit or fruit purée into a deep ovenproof dish, a large Pyrex bowl is good as you see the layers through it. Put the tapioca into a saucepan, add the milk, sugar and the grated peel of a lemon. Bring to the boil stirring, and then simmer, stirring quite often for 30 minutes. Put the tapioca on top of the fruit. Let cool. Whisk the egg whites until stiff. Add the granulated sugar and whisk in well. Fold in the caster sugar and chopped nuts with a metal spoon. Arrange on top of the tapioca. Bake in the top of a fairly hot oven Gas 6 (400°F/200°C) until golden brown, about 8–10 minutes. Serve hot or cold with cream. You can do the fruit and tapioca in advance but the meringue should not be done more than a few hours before eating.
© 1976 Josceline Dimbleby. All rights reserved.