There was a jug of creamy milk for the children (Mr Beaver stuck to beer) and a great big lump of deep yellow butter in the middle of the table from which everyone took as much as he wanted to go with his potatoes, and all the children thought - and I agree with them - that there's nothing to beat good freshwater fish if you eat it when it has been alive half an hour ago and come out of the pan half a minute ago. And when they had finished the fish, Mrs Beaver brought unexpectedly out of the oven a great and gloriously sticky marmalade roll, steaming hot, and at the same time moved the kettle onto the fire, so that when they had finished the marmalade roll the tea was made and ready to be poured out.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, C. S. Lewis, A Day with the Beavers
Alongside the tempting Turkish Delight, my main food memory from Narnia is the marmalade roll Mrs Beaver makes for the Pevensie siblings. On a bitterly cold night, miles (and worlds) from home, I can't imagine she could have provided anything more comforting than a hot, sweet marmalade roll. It's just the kind of dessert I want to consume when we're lucky enough to see snow in London.
Luckily, I was left with a jar of marmalade following my Christmas gift-making extravaganza (to be honest, I may have deliberately orchestrated this situation). In the post-Christmas come-down, I fancied a little comfort baking and an afternoon in under a woollen blanket. This roll was just the ticket - a morning working with dough, and an afternoon enjoying the outcome. Obviously you could eat this on its own, but not to make a custard to accompany it would seem foolish.
50g caster sugar
1tsp baking powder
70mL sour cream
1 jar marmalade (whatever flavour you fancy)
280mL double cream
2 egg yolks
Ovenproof dish - mine is 22cm long and 15cm wide
1. Preheat the oven to 160C and grease the ovenproof dish with butter. Sieve the flour, sugar, baking powder and cinnamon into the mixing bowl. Rub the butter into the mixture with your fingertips, until is resembles breadcrumbs.
2. Whisk the sour cream, milk and egg together in the jug, and tip the liquids into the mixing bowl. Mix everything together with a fork until it comes together in a dough. Generously flour your bench and tip the dough out. Push it out into a rough rectangle, around 18cm wide, 30cm long and a centimetre and a half high.
3. Spoon two thirds of the jar of marmalade onto the dough, spreading it over the whole surface. If your marmalade is hard set and not very spreadable, you can put it in the small saucepan over a low heat and spread it once it melts a little.
4. Using the spatula to pull the dough away from the bench if necessary, roll the dough up into a scroll and transfer to the ovenproof dish. Transfer the roll to the oven and bake for an hour, until golden and crisp on top.
5. Once the roll has had about forty minutes in the oven, you should start to make the custard. Pour the milk and cream into the medium saucepan and place over a low heat with the split vanilla pod. Stir occasionally to prevent the milk burning on the bottom, and heat until almost simmering. Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together in the mixing bowl and, while still whisking, slowly pour the hot milk and cream on top.
6. Wash the saucepan and transfer the custard back into it. Place over a low heat and stir continuously until thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon.
7. When the roll is about to come out, place the rest of the marmalade into the small saucepan along with the whiskey. Heat until liquid. Once you have taken the roll out of the oven, paint the top with the marmalade and whiskey and serve hot with the custard.