Food is fuel, but it’s also highly emotional.
Our cravings can depend on everything from our mood to the weather – and as the days get shorter and colder, our food preferences shift.
Here, chefs share the warming, comforting puddings they’ll be cooking up this autumn and winter…
1. Nadiya Hussain
“It’s got to be sticky toffee pudding, hasn’t it?” says Nadiya Hussain.
“Sticky toffee pudding with dates. I like to add a little bit of star anise and orange in my sticky toffee pudding, and I like to serve it with cold ice cream.”
Nadiya’s Everyday Baking by Nadiya Hussain (Michael Joseph)
2. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
“It’s definitely a good time for those cockle-warming dishes,” agrees Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.
“I always love a crumble – we’ve already had quite a few crumbles since the blackberries and apples have been [in season], but I’m also really looking forward to cobblers – which is, if anything, even easier than a crumble, because the cobbler dough comes together really well.”
River Cottage Good Comfort by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (Bloomsbury)
3. Yotam Ottolenghi and Noor Murad
For both Yotam Ottolenghi and Noor Murad, it’s all about sweet, spiced fruit.
“I like to cook fruit, and now there are really nice plums and blackberries, so I often make crisps and crumbles,” says Ottolenghi. “I always have a container with cooked fruit in the fridge, [for] the kids to put on their yoghurt in the morning.
“We’ve just had apricots, but they’re gone now – but plums are in [season], and for me, this is the beginning of winter. Cinnamon, star anise, some brown sugar, plums and blackberries. It’s a slow roast that sits there [in the oven] – it’s really perfect. You can eat it warm, but it’s also really nice fridge cold.”
For Murad, one fruit reigns supreme. “I love apples, I eat them every day and I love cooked apples,” she says. “My mum says when she was pregnant with me, she used to stew apples and eat them a lot” – which might be why Murad loves them so much. This season, she’ll be keeping it simple and satisfying her cravings with apple crumble.
Ottolenghi Test Kitchen: Extra Good Things by Noor Murad and Yotam Ottolenghi (Ebury Press)
4. Gino D’Acampo
Despite his Italian roots, Gino D’Acampo favours something a bit more British as a sweet treat at this time of year.
“Well, it’s an English pudding – but I made it Italian,” he admits. “I’m a huge fan of bread-and-butter pudding – done well. Proper custard, raisins, fruit and stuff life that. The only difference is instead of using bread, I use panettone – the Italian Christmas cake, which nowadays you can buy all year round.
“I picked the best English recipe and the best Christmas cake in Italy, and I make what I call a panettone and butter pudding.”
Gino’s Italy: Like Mamma Used to Make By Gino D’Acampo (Bloomsbury)
5. Melissa Thompson
Food writer Melissa Thompson recently found herself in Wales for the Abergavenny Food Festival, and she visited her partner’s family while she was there.
“They have loads of pear trees, and pears are my top five – if not top three – fruit. I love pears so much – Conference pears are my favourite,” Thompson enthuses.
“They gave us a load of pears, and Kate [Thompson’s partner] made this – it was meant to be a pear crumble, and she thought she’d messed up the topping, because she did flour and sugar, but then she also added ground almonds to it.
“When she blended it up, the fat in the almonds made it almost into a dough. It baked beautifully, and I would happily eat that every week from here until May, with custard or ice cream.”
Motherland by Melissa Thompson (Bloomsbury)
6. Tom Kerridge
Tom Kerridge is craving something fruity from his new cookbook.
“As we we’re in autumn, you always want something that’s a little bit more cakey and warming,” he says. “There’s a lovely, spiced pear and caramel upside-down cake [in the book], a bit like a pineapple upside down cake, but using spice pears. That’s a delicious one.”
Real Life Recipes by Tom Kerridge (Bloomsbury Absolute)
7. Rukmini Iyer
Like D’Acampo, Rukmini Iyer likes to give a classic bread and butter pudding a twist – this time, by injecting Indian flavours.
She uses “saffron and cardamom and blackberries” in hers, saying: “You can use any seasonal fruit – you can use figs, you can use raspberries. You can make an amazing saffron infused milk – it makes a really easy custard, so you don’t need to make full custard, [just] your saffron milk with some eggs.
“Pour it all over, I use brioche, put the fruit and then pistachios on top to make it nice and crunchy. It’s so tasty. Put it in a tin in the oven – you can even arrange the bread nicely, or just chuck it in.”
India Express: Fresh And Delicious Recipes For Every Day by Rukmini Iyer (Square Peg)