Frequently, tinned prunes are accused, or the prunes and custard at school, or the cut-glass bowl loaded with them in a shoreline lodging lounge area with backdrop that possessed an aroma like mince and Benson and Hedges. However there is no fault or injury on my part: the tin of prunes in syrup my grandmother constantly kept in the cabinet alongside the peaches and pears; the sack of teddy bear noses (more on this later) on the rack; or the dishes of splashed prunes, which resembled gigantic ocean slugs, on whatever sideboard: I enjoyed them all. So dark and thick, their sweetness concentrated and practically hot.

At that point there were what I thought of as "grown-up" prunes: the tin of stuffed prunes Dad purchased Mum for Christmas consistently. I presently realize they were prunes d'Agen, named after a town in Aquitaine in south-west France and loaded down with prune cream. In any case, in those days they were essentially prunes loaded down with prunes: something I preferred, loaded down with a greater amount of that thing – just multiple times darker and more extravagant than the tins or the packs. Like a shower of a companion's mum's scent or a drink from a jug of advocaat, they were far superior for being taken illegally. Like other palatable blessings, the tin of prunes used to be held under the end table in the front room. To take one, I would lie on the floor covering, which implied there was a hazard that the clingy prune would, similar to the toffee Quality Street, gather lighten (this was never an issue).

At Christmas, there were additionally prunes absorbed liquor that were eaten with cook meat and prunes suffocated in red wine, the two of which were great. At that point, in my 20s, I made Nigella Lawson's muskily spiced prunes. Poached in lord dim tea with marsala and muscovado sugar, these prunes are, as Nigella guarantees, truly condemned awesome, regardless of whether made with teddy bear noses (her words) instead of delicate bellied Agen. Nigella additionally noticed that prunes can always lose consistent help, which made me like them considerably more – who needs total understanding when you are on top of Nigella?

The present formula owes a ton to Nigella's musky prunes, and furthermore a pudding-cake from Brittany called far breton aux pruneaux and zabaglione. The crash of these three plans produces something between a set custard and bread-and-butter pudding, with prunes and marsala. I am a major aficionado of marsala, a golden invigorated wine from the city of a similar name on the west bank of Sicily: as a beverage, yet in addition for cooking in sauces or as the base of soups, when we don't have a container of wine open. Marsala has a prune-like quality: a rich, undecided sweetness and 18% liquor volume, which is the reason it combines so well with prunes, plumping them up and enhancing the custard.

Eaten while still warm, this pudding is a delicately set custard; as it cools, it solidifies and can be cut into squares (truly, it tends to be made a day ahead of time). Prune darlings: you could absorb some additional prunes all the more warm marsala – and possibly a spoonful of muscovado sugar, as well – and leave them in a cut-glass bowl on the sideboard for the individuals who need extra.

Prune, marsala and custard pudding

Prep 15 min

Drenching 2 hr+

Cook 50 min

Serves 6, liberally

200ml marsala, warmed

20 pitted prunes

4 huge eggs

150g caster sugar

50g spread, softened

900ml entire milk

220g plain flour

A touch of salt

Spread, for lubing

Pour the warmed marsala over the prunes and leave to sit for two hours or in a perfect world medium-term. Channel, keeping the fluid.

In a huge bowl, blend the eggs and sugar until velvety. Rush in the margarine, milk and 100ml of the marsala used to douse the prunes. Filter the flour and salt into the bowl, racing as you go, ensuring there are no irregularities. Warmth the broiler to 200C (180C fan)/gas 6.

Put a large portion of the depleted prunes in a well-buttered profound Pyrex dish and pour in the hitter. Heat for 10 minutes, at that point decrease the temperature to 170C (150C fan)/gas 3½ and prepare for an additional 40 minutes. Part of the way through heating, press the rest of the prunes into the now-set custard. Before the finish of cooking, the top ought to be a brilliant outside layer around the dark wrinkles.