James May: Oh Cook! (2020–2023): Season 1, Episode 5 - Pudding - full transcript

From crumbles and cakes to sticky toffee and bread and butter, puddings are undoubtedly the gastronomic calling card of the UK. James kicks off this sugary half hour with Spotted Dick, an amusingly-named culinary relic that deserv...

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Hello, viewers.
I'm James May and I can't cook.

Welcome to my cookery show.

♪ ♪

This time, I'm venturing
into the unknown again,

doing something
I've never done before.

Ooh, that looks quite promising.

That's right,
I'm making puddings.


I've overdone it. Bugger.

I'll be building
a complex televisual cake

featuring layer upon layer
of delicious treats.

It's just ace.

We'll see all our favorite
baking shots,

including sieving and mixing.

There will be strange men
in cupboards...

- Who was that?
- [laughs]

- Have you got a man in there?
- Maybe.

...and some cracking puddings.

Look at that.

That's probably
one of the greatest moments

of my career so far.

And the first dish is a cue
for sniggering at the back.

Well, this is
a new experience for me.

Spotted dick.

And before you start trying
to be funny on social media,

I should point out that "dick"
and indeed "dog"

both mean "pudding."

They are etymologically related
to the word "dough."

And if you don't know
what a spotted dick is

and you want to know
what this is gonna look like

when I've finished,
just google it now.

You can just put in
"spotted dick pic"

and you'll see the sort of thing
we're expecting to see.

The main ingredients
are 300 grams of flour,

150 grams of beef suet,

75 grams of sugar,

two tablespoons
of baking powder,

some currants
and 200 milliliters of milk.

So far, I've mixed the flour
and the suet together.

I'm now going to add the sugar.

And the baking powder,
which is what makes it

come up all fluffy and spongey.

I've eaten spotted dick
constantly, for my entire life.


That's about 110 grams.

Mix the currants in very, very
thoroughly and very evenly,

otherwise you'll end up with
a sort of currant-rich area

and the rest of it
will simply be dick,

rather than spotted dick,
or dog.

So if you live in Detroit
and you say to each other,

"What up, dough?" what is
reckoned to be short for

"What's up, dog?"
what you're really saying is,

"How is it going, pudding?"

The zest of a lemon
goes into this,

using the surform tool.

Now we add the milk.
Little bit at a time.

This will be served,
obviously, with custard,

not crème anglaise or cream

or any of that
pretentious nonsense.

I think I'm gonna call Nikki
out in a minute, 'cause I really

have never done anything
like this before.

Feels incredibly stiff to me.


That wasn't even deliberate.


- Hello?
- Hello, James.

Um, I've progressed as far
as mixing the ingredients,

and I know there's a complicated
and rather occult bit coming up

with the lid of the,
of the pot and so on.

- Does that look good?
- Yes, you need to mix it
a little bit more, please.

[James] The handle
of the spoon's gonna snap.

You hold the bowl and just...

...give it a good pummel.

[James] Nikki's not
stronger than me,

she's just had more practice.

[James] Oh, that's good.
Like that's picked up

all the flour.

- [Nikki] Excellent.
- Now I've somehow got

to get this in there.

This is a game we used to play

when I was a student.

There was a...

well, I'll say her name,
she was called Kelsey.

She was a vegetarian...
she was a very early vegetarian

'cause this was the early '80s...

and she used to make these
bean casserole things for us,

and we didn't really like them,
if we're honest.

I can reveal this now, 'cause
it's sort of 35 years ago.

And she'd leave it
in the kitchen and they'd go

a bit hard like this
and we used to play a game.

The game was called
"Kelsey's Beans," and you'd put

the pot of beans
in the middle of the table

and you'd spin a bottle.

And let's say it pointed to me.

I had to pick her beans up
and go, "One, two,"

like that over my head.

And each time you did it,
you had to add a second

until eventually the beans
fell out on somebody's head

and it was hilarious and then
we'd go for fish and chips.

For safety reasons,

Kelsey's bean recipe
is not in my cookbook.


- Why is it...
- I don't know, but it's...

- There.
- [laughs]

It's gonna be great, this.

We're going to steam
our pudding,

providing a gentle
all-round heat

that will let it rise

To stop the steam
from getting into the bowl,

Nikki has made a clever lid
of grease-proof paper and foil

complete with a fold to allow
for my pudding's expansion.

- So the lid can go pop,
rather than just burst.
- Yes.

Yes. So now we're gonna
tie that on.

Remember to tie it twice.

[James] Got a friction burn
on my finger.

[Nikki] Oh, no.

So now we're gonna
bring this over here.

- Oh, does it go over the top?
- Well, we want to make handles,
so it's easier

- to get it in and out of the...
- Ah.

...stockpot, in which
it's going to steam.

[James] If you can't tie a knot,
tie a lot, as the Navy say.

You can tie knots, though.

I watched that
and that was a good knot.

- Was it?
- Yeah.

- Okay, so there.
- There you go,

- so we can lift it up.
- That's nice. Got a big pan.

[Nikki] We've got a saucer
in it, and that is so

there's no direct heat
on the bottom of the pudding.

- [James] So this goes in there.
- Yes.

[James] With my pudding
safely in my pan,

we can fill it two-thirds
with boiling water,

cover it and leave it to simmer
for a whopping two hours.

What shall we do then? Shall we
have another glass of wine?

Why not? Shall I clear up?

[James] As we leave
the spotted dick simmering away,

we ascend a layer on
our delicious televisual cake,

to another thing
I've never done before.

If I'd known you were coming,
goes the old song,

I'd have baked a cake.

Well, you have come,
as it happens,

through the magic of television.

I haven't baked a cake.

More to the point,
I've never baked a cake.

So, let's have a go at it.

And I know that
it's all about proportions.

Proportions are very important
in this one.

And it starts with the weight
of your eggs, and they weigh...

195 grams.

Stand by for
a top sponge-making tip.

And it's this: once you have
the weight of the eggs,

use this measurement for all
your other key ingredients.

So that's 195 grams of butter,

sugar and self-raising flour.

Baking powder, not 195 grams.

A small teaspoon's worth.

And some milk.

Here is the butter.

I'm going to mix that
with the sugar.


I'm working all the way around
the bowl so I get everything.

I don't leave any lumps.

What we're going to make,
I should have said,

is a Victoria sponge, so called

because it was favored
by Queen Victoria herself.

Apparently, in the afternoon,

she went into
a-a sort of depression.

And the only thing that really

cheered her up
was a sponge cake.

I usually have a double Scotch
if I ever have that problem.

I don't know
if this is fluffy enough,

'cause I've never made
a cake before.

Shall I get Nikki?

It's giving me cramp.

- [knocking on door]
- Nikki?

- Yes?
- I've got a slight
sinking feeling

- about my cake.
- Oh, no.

I don't know,
I don't know at what point...

Is that fluffy enough?

No, you need to take it
a little bit further.

This is my first cake,
remember, so this is...

- So I'm gonna
speed up the device.
- Yes.

That's in danger of flying
out of the bowl. There you go.

How did you do this before the
electric mixer was invented?

- Did you have...?
- [Nikki] Wooden spoon.

So people who did this
for a living would've been

- built like oxen? Yeah.
- Massive, massive muscles.

- You wouldn't have picked
a fight with them, would you?
- No.

- Is that looking good?
- Yep.

Okay. Now I've got to scrape
the mixture out of...

When I was a kid,
when I was a boy...

Well, actually, until relatively
recently, I... until I left home,

cake mixture, the leftover
cake mixture in the bowl

when something like a fruit cake

was made
was absolutely delicious.

Extremely bad for you,
because it had

just a load of raw stuff and
sugar and what have you in it.

But we used to scrape it out
with a spoon.

That was
the greatest treat going.

Next, I beat the eggs,

while Nikki beats
a hasty retreat.

Eggshells can go in compost,
by the way.

I know that because my missus
is an expert on compost.

And she'd have to be,
really, living with me.

Anyway, you now beat
these eggs together.

Want to introduce
a bit of air to that mixture.

Air is one
of the raising agents,

along with the raising agents
in the flour.

And, indeed, the baking powder,

which we're going
to add a bit later on.

And we're going
to add this gradually

while stirring that mixture,
hoping it doesn't curdle.

Horse's ass.

That's not a secret ingredient.

We're not French.

Little bit of egg.

Ooh, that looks quite promising.

That's all the egg.

I don't think it's curdling.

And I'm not really quite sure

what curdling would look
like in a cake mixture,

but I'd say this
looks pretty good.

So be absolutely sure all the
egg is mixed in, otherwise...

...you'd get a sort of an eggy
installment to your sponge cake.

Right. Sieving flour.

You need a sieve
and you need some flour.

Sieving introduces air.

The air will help
with the raising of the sponge

and make it go fluffy.

So that's the first installment.

I can start folding that in.

I can also start flicking it
on my trousers.

Be aware, stirring ingredients

can cause introspection.

I don't eat cakes very much.

I don't eat
that many sweet things.

But a Victoria sponge, it is

part of the black
and whites of childhood,

so I'll probably enjoy it.

And worse, historical insights.

Actually, the Victorian Age
was the first time

that people could start
to really make things

like cakes in any sort
of quantity

without any special skills,
because it was the dawn

of things like baking powder
and self-raising flour.

I got to say this is strangely
therapeutic, doing this.

And remember,
add enough milk to make sure

the mixture is smooth,
never runny.


[Nikki] Hello?

[James] I'm ready
for cake mixture inspection.

Okay, cake mixture inspection
coming up.


is... perfect.

[James] We all thrive
on a bit of praise.

To cook our cake mixture,
we need two cake tins

for the top and the bottom,

lined with greaseproof paper

and greased
with a little butter.

One blob in there.

Looks pretty good, doesn't it?

It looks sort of cakey.

It does...
it has slightly curdled.

- Has it?
- Very slightly.

But it's no big deal.

[James] That'll teach me
to go fishing for more praise.

[Nikki] Shouldn't affect
the actual baking of the cake.

It's because
when you put the eggs in,

if you put them in too fast
or the eggs are too cold

or the butter's too cold,
it breaks the emulsification

of the butter and sugar.

- Ooh... very scientific.
- Mm.

Then, like a Dutch master,
I use the palette knife

to spread the cake mix.

Oven is on at 180 degrees.
I just put it in?

Just put them in on the,
in the middle shelf.

Both on the same shelf.

- That one there?
- Mm-hmm.

Okay, and how long
do they have to stay in?

20 to 25 minutes.

[James] "20 to 25 minutes."


A baking time of 20

to 25 minutes gives us time
for yet another interlude.

♪ ♪

The storecupboard hero today
is apple crumble.

And for this I'll need
two tins of cooked apples,

a hundred grams of flour,

a hundred grams
of demerara sugar,

75 grams of cold butter,

75 grams of oats,

some sultanas
and a bit of normal sugar.

Now, to start with,
you put the flour in the bowl,

then you add some cold butter.

Then mix the flour
and butter together

until they resemble

Squeeze, squeeze,
rub the flour in.

What we're not doing
is making pastry.

We're making crumble, so...

so don't make pastry.

It takes a while to mix crumble
and the technique is important.

If you resemble a cat
in its litter tray,

you're doing it right.

Then add the sugar

and the oats,
holding a bit back

to sprinkle on at the end.

Next, I'll put half
of my apples into a pie dish.

It's apple,
I've said it's apple crumble.

Well, I said that
at the beginning.

I put in the apple
from the tin of apple,

which is an essential part
of this apple crumble.

I'm not taking it out
on the viewer, Will,

I'm taking it out on you.

The viewer's annoyed
with you, as well, because

they're thinking, "I'm enjoying
watching James May make this

apple pie with tinned apple
from tins" and some bloke

in the background keeps saying,
"Have you told them it's apple?"

- [laughter]
- Yes, I have!

[James] Anyway,
back to the montage.

I'm gonna put in the sultanas,

by the remaining apple.

Apple, apple, apple, apple
and a dusting of sugar.

So I've used all of one tin
and I've used, I would say,

two thirds of the other tin.

I've got a little bit left over
because my-my dish

isn't quite big enough,
but I've got an idea for that.

Because next we're going
to take the crumble mixture,

and distribute it evenly
over the top of this

And then, as I suspected,
I've got slightly

too much crumble mixture,
but we have got that

leftover apple,
so let's make a sort of

army ration style
miniature crumble in there,

which we can simply cook
in the tin.

Then sprinkle
the remaining sugar and oats

on the top of my crumbi.

The oven is on. It's at 200
degrees, it's up to temperature.

These are ready to go in.

So unless anybody
has an objection

or wants to get a cutaway,
I will put them in the oven.

- Happy?
- [director] Mm-hmm.

In they go for about...

25 minutes, I think.

Or is it half an hour?

20 to 25 minutes.
Come back in a moment.

Oh, yes! Oh, how silly
of me... custard!

Now then, the storecupboard
savior layer

of the show demands simplicity.

I'll do real custard later.

We are using tinned custard.

It's been de-branded,
but I have to tell you that

it's Bird's custard, because the
story behind it is interesting.

It was invented in 1837
by Mr. Alfred Bird,

whose wife was allergic to eggs.

Eggs being a vital part
of real custard, obviously.

So he invented
a sort of ersatz custard

that his wife could eat
and it was so successful

that eventually he turned it
into the commercial product

that we know now.

The most interesting thing
about Bird's custard

is it contains no eggs...

and no milk,

i.e. the two things
that make custard custard

are not in this, the most widely
consumed custard in the world.

So exactly what is in it,
apart from cornstarch

and salt, I don't know.

Vanilla, I would imagine.

Anyway, it's extremely tasty.

Is everything
I just said rubbish?

Okay, some historical revision.

Alfred Bird's
original instant custard

was a powder
and is still available.

And you mixed it with milk
to make his instant custard

that did contain milk,
but still didn't contain eggs,

so his wife could eat it.

Bird's also make custard,

in a can and it does
contain milk.

So to sum up and simplify this,

real custard has egg
and milk in it.

Instant custard by Bird's and
other types of instant custard

maybe available do contain milk,
because you can't make custard

without milk,
but they don't contain eggs,

so if Alfred Bird's wife was
still with us today,

God rest her bones,
she could eat it.


Let's put the custard on.
It takes but a few minutes.

Let's not heat it too quickly,
otherwise it will burn.

It's a simple matter of
stirring it with a wooden spoon.

Custard is very important to me.

Custard is something
I can remember

from as early as I can
remember existing.

It's just starting to catch
on the bottom of the pan.

I'm going to turn
the heat right down.

This program has made me fat

after just five days.

That was an-an open invitation

for some very, very funny
comments on social media.


Ooh, look at that!

Let's get ready to crumble.

Alongside my regular crumble,
I have

my army ration crumble
in a tin.

I put the crumble into a bowl

with some egg-free
but not milk-free custard.

- Mmm.
- Does it work?

- [James] I'm gonna try it...
- It really works.

[James] It's all made
out of bits from the cupboard.

I wouldn't know that apple
had come from a tin.

The crumble's good.
No lumps in it.

That's all down
to thorough mixing.

The crumble's very good.

Here's the army crumble,
exactly the same ingredients

from the same sources,
simply cooked in the tin.

- [mouth full] This is hot!
- [laughter]

The humble
yet delicious apple crumble,

smothered in lovely
tinned custard.

But now let's go back
to an earlier layer...

those freshly baked
Victoria sponge halves.

Whew. Yowzers!


- [Nikki] Happy?
- Look at that! Yes.

I'm extremely happy with that.

This is a big moment
in my life... my first cake.

While my cake halves
are cooling down,

I can get on with making
my whipped cream...

...which is
a very tricky process.

One minute, peaks
of silky whipped cream,

the next if you're
not careful, butter.

Oh, that's gotta be... look at
that! I think it's gonna be...

Oh, no, no, no, no, no!
I've overdone it.

- Slightly,
but that's absolutely fine.
- Bugger!

That happened so quickly,
I was just...

I was in the middle of saying
this is just about to be right,

and then it was overdone.

I mean, that's not a disaster.
We can still spread it out

- with the, with the, uh...
- Yeah.

- ...up and under.
- It's not a disaster at all.

Strawberry jam on one half
and cream on the other.

The risk adverse
amongst you might want

to look away for a moment.

Right, so that one
over on to that one.

There, and...


[both laughing]

I made a good comedy noise,
but I think it's,

eh, it's okay, isn't it?

- [Nikki] And then?
- Sprinkle of icing sugar.

- Just on the top?
- Yeah.

That is literally the icing
on the cake, as the director

just said from
the back of the room.

And the proof of the ca...

Who was that?

Oh, you don't want to know him.

Have you got a man in there?


- That's Phil.
- So I have a Nikki
in the cupboard.

- But you in the cupboard,
you've got...
- I've got a Phil.

- You've got a... a Phil?
- Yeah.

Is there another cupboard
inside that cupboard...

Oh, no, no, no, no, no.

Right, there is not only
a Victoria sponge cake,

but my Victoria sponge cake

and my first ever cake
of any description.

- Would you like to try it?
- I'd love to.

Here we go.

♪ ♪

- That one is yours
- Oh, beautiful.

- All right, you ready?
- Yes.

In three, two, one, cake.

- Mmm.
- Mmm.

[both] Mmm...mmm...mmm...

God, that's got me
out of my afternoon slump.

That tastes like a cake.

It's delicious.
It's light, it's fluffy.

It's jammy, it's creamy.


God save the queen.

No, not goodbye.
There's more.

Now, earlier,
I promised to show you

how to make real custard.

Well, that moment
has arrived.

You join me at
a very exciting time.

It is about an hour
and a half later.

The spotted dick is in there.
That should be cooked.

I'm now going to make
perfect custard.

I will need some sugar,
baking powder,

rather excitingly,
a vanilla pod,

eggs and milk.

Here is milk.
It goes into this pan,

and we heat it very gently

because we don't want it
to boil.

That would spoil it;
we simply want to warm it up.

So we'll have that ring on.

We're going to infuse that milk
with vanilla flavor.

This is a vanilla pod.

You can use vanilla essence,
if you're a charlatan.

And I'm going to need my
children's TV presenter glasses

for this because the goodness
of the pod

is actually inside,
in the seeds.

And to get at the seeds
we have to slice this

rather fiddly thing lengthwise.

Here is my special
gold gangster knife.

This morning I have
sharpened the point especially

using a Japanese water stone.

So you stick it in there,

minding your-your finger.

Are you getting this?

Slicing it down its length.

Steer the point...


And then, if you sort of
prize it apart a bit...

Look at all that inside.
Look at that goodness.

That's the thing that makes
ice cream taste so wonderful.

Then, using the edge
of the blade...

Ray, stop talking
in the background.

That's what we're after,
that stuff there.

Those are the seeds
of the vanilla.

We'll put the pod itself
in the milk as well

because there'll be a bit
of vanillary goodness

left in that.

Most importantly,
we'll put those in.

That knife is really
fabulously sharp.

It's excellent.
Right, eggs.

We need six eggs,
but only the yolks.

So, using our vomiting
chicken separator,

which you may have seen
earlier in the series,

or it may be in
a future episode, I don't know.

This is the most confusing thing
I've ever done in my life.

Put egg in vomiting chicken.

Put eggshell in compot.

The whites are gonna come out
of the chicken into this bowl.

This bowl will be put
to one side,

and then used to make
a meringue Pavlova

or an egg white omelet.

The vomiting chicken,
it's a comedy item, obviously,

but it does actually work.

It's very mess-free.


[Tom] You keep saying

- Well, that's what it's called.
- That could just be...

It's called
the vomiting chicken.

[Tom] Is it really called
the vomiting chicken?

It is called
the vomiting chicken, isn't it?

[Tom] Is it really called
the vomiting chicken?

- Yes.
- Okay.

Right, I have five more eggs
to do in the chundering chicken,

so, um, camera crew,

if you'd like to go outside,
We're in London.

If you could get a nice cutaway
of an Airbus A380

flying overhead
on its approach to Heathrow,

that would be
absolutely tremendous.

Proper piece of bogey
in that one.

Thank God for that.

Bowl of egg yolks, whisk.

Mix it together a bit,
break 'em up.

Add two tablespoons
of caster sugar

and one of corn flour.

Obviously, you do have
to measure this very carefully

because corn flour is
pretty sensitive stuff.

If you put too much in
you will just end up with

a block of custard.

All the time keeping an eye
on the vanilla-infused milk.

If it catches,
all could be lost.

It smells like custard already.

The Romans had this, you know.

Not just central heating
and cement

and all those other things.

We say, "Oh, you know,
the Romans had that."

The Romans had custard.


Now, time is, to some extent,
of the essence here

because the spotted dick
is ready.

We don't want to overdo it.

This custard, as usual,
is a new experience for me.

I haven't done it before.

I don't know if
it's going to work.

But if it doesn't,
I want to be ready,

so I am going to open, in
the sure and certain knowledge

that I won't need it,

the tin of emergency custard
from the storecupboard.

And then, if I need to,
I can just quickly bang it

in another pan,
and we're off.

That's baked beans.

Who's responsible
for debranding

the stuff in the cupboard?

You? That's beans.


So the custard's got
to work, then.

♪ ♪

This bit is going to be
a bit tricky because

pouring milk into egg
could lead to disaster.

So let's go round and round.
Are you getting this?

It could be brilliant.
If this doesn't work,

you're gonna get baked beans
on your spotted dick.

Are you ready?

It's working.

It's not only working,
it looks like custard.

That's unbelievably exciting.
Look at that.

That's probably one of
the greatest moments

of my career so far.

That is not custard thick yet.
It's still milk consistency.

But the color...

The smell is absolutely spot-on.

It's thrilling.

Back in the pan.

The combined mixture then needs
to be stirred constantly

for about 15 minutes,
until it thickens.

To break the monotony,
I'm testing another gadget.

This time,
an automatic stirrer.

- Come and see this.
- [Nikki] What have you done?

Oh, my God, what is that?

It's an automatic stirrer,
and it means

that you don't have
to stand here

for 15 minutes
with a wooden spoon.

- [Nikki] Oh, it's going lumpy.
- Oh, that's got a lump.

I think we need to get
the wooden spoon in.

[James] Right.
Slight lumps forming.

Let's reduce the heat
a little bit.

Oh, he didn't quite get into
the corner of the pan there.

The wooden spoon is still
the preferred tool, I'm afraid.

You need to feel the custard.

- You do.
- You can't feel the custard

- through the automatic stirrer.
- It's very tactile.

[James] Yeah.
And it's-it's,

you know, the interface is...
is important,

and it's one of the ways
you commune with the custard,

in the same way
that a woodworker communes

- with the wood.
- You sound like you're becoming

emotionally involved
with the custard.

Well, slightly.
But I do love custard.

Shall I take out the...

the jug?

[Nikki chuckles]

- Okay. Who's gonna do this?
- You can do this.

[James] Pour with confidence.

What a time to be alive.

You know how...
well, I've always imagined,

I may yet... I may yet be shown
to be completely wrong,

but I've always assumed that
animals live in the instant.

So your cat or your dog,
you know, you tread on it,

it feels pain and yells,
but a few seconds later

it's forgotten that that ever
happened and it loves you again.

When I did that, I was living
entirely in the moment.

- [laughs]
- And death had no sting.


♪ ♪

[James] Keeping our custard
piping hot.

We've got
some unwrapping to do.

- Yes!
- Yes!

- Look at that.
- Wow!

Okay, would you like me
to serve you...

Yes, please.

...your spotted dick?

Geez, woman, please
turn this thing down.

[Nikki] [laughs]
This is to get you back

for the fish pie.

I'll shut the warmer drawer
again in case it drops

- below 250 degrees, see?
- [chuckling]

Does it look good?

[Nikki] Yes.

[James] Say when.

It's really good.

Curranty. Custardy.

Dicky. Fantastic.

I've made a spotted dick.

- You look so happy.
- I am.

♪ ♪

Sheer, unbridled joy,
that's what puddings are.

Stirring, sprinkling,
whisking, mixing.

Surely there is
nothing more satisfying

from a cook's point of view
than pulling

the perfect pudding
out of the oven

and shoveling it
into your face.

I don't know,
I used to believe I wanted

the unqualified love
of beautiful women,

wealth, a yacht... I don't.

I want a sticky pudding
with some custard on it.

Thank you for watching.