Anyone for dessert

“Is there dessert?” was a regular question asked as the bundle of knives, forks & spoons were noisily gathered from the cutlery drawer before placing them at the eight or more places around our dining table. Mammy would have spread the freshly starched white linen damask cloth across the surface if our arms were not long enough to do so. Little people not much taller than the height of the table found it hard to see if the cloth was evenly spread across the surface.

Place mats were in another drawer. They were to denote a place setting and positions for serving dishes and to protect the table from those hot dishes. In our so called temperate climate hot food cools quickly so the dinner plates were always heated. Elly, that is where I got my asbestos fingers – carrying the filled hot plates and dishes from the kitchen. 😉 Condiments & sauces were next then a plate of sliced bread and drinking glasses. Milk was a normal drink to have with a meal at our table. I might have had water since I was unable to tolerate the milk. When the chorus rang out “Da da dee da da, Grannymar set the table!” it was because I had forgotten a dish of butter. Irish men love butter with their spuds!

If we were slow to eat up our dinner the threat of “No dessert for you!” might be followed by “If you don’t eat it for your dinner, you will get it for your tea!” Dinner was the main meal of the day and served mid day. Mind you our evening meal was often another hot cooked meal. Mammy found it easier than making several plates of sandwiches.

Desserts were not to be missed. Mammy made good pastry, a talent I never inherited. Apple tarts were an all year favourite, with rhubarb when in season and sweet mince in December & January. There were rice and tapioca puddings and baked egg custard. We had fruit flans, meringues and whipped jellies in summertime. Do-nuts and hot Apple cake were part of school day desserts when our time was limited and the boys often took their portions to eat on the bus journey as they returned to school. There might even be a portion for the bus driver!

As I grew up the dessert fair became more varied. I was called on to make lemon meringue pie, sponge cakes and cheese cakes. They never lasted long and the sound of “Any more?” was a regular thing.

Did you have a favourite dessert? Tell us about it.

18 thoughts on “Anyone for dessert

  1. Nick

    My favourite desserts as a kid were either chocolate pudding with chocolate sauce or trifle. I was forever pestering my mum for the first.

    It’s a shame few of us have time for a proper leisurely midday meal these days and just grab a sandwich in between one task and another.

  2. elfinamsterdam

    My mum never really went in for deserts, it was dinner and.. move on!
    I didn’t mind, you are used to what you are used to I guess.

    My paternal grandmother was a confectioner and always had tins of fairy cakes or fresh cream buns in the fridge.

    I do love my mothers trifle tho, she makes it every now and then and its gorgeous! 🙂

  3. Grannymar Post author

    @Nick – I bet that was a steamed chocolate pudding. The last I had was the one I made in school.

    I miss those long slow meals, we laughed, we cried, we shared and we learned without realizing it.

    @Elf – I forgot to mention trifle, making that was down to me. It might be where I learned about adding a ‘drop’ out of the bottle! 🙄

    @Ian – In our house ‘pudding’ referred to a steamed pudding or the black & white stuff served with eggs & bacon.

  4. kenju

    As a child, my favorite was thick layers of devil’s food cake with chocolate fudge icing between the layers and on top. My mom made the best ones!!

  5. rummuser

    At home, it was always and continues to be in most of our homes, a milk based sweet dish made with various ingredients like, semolina, rice, vermicelli, or lentils, sweetened with either brown sugar or refined sugar and seasoned with nuts and sultanas.

    When we ate out, it was always and continues to be ice cream.

  6. Alice

    As I grew up, desserts were usually served mostly on Sundays when there was more time to make them. My favorites were banana and coconut puddings, anything chocolate, and when I was sick Mama made egg custard for me, a practice I continued with my own. Having an egg custard still makes me feel pampered. As for warming up plates, I do that in the microwave. I just wondered how your Mum did it.

  7. Nancy


    In our house we always had dinner when Dad came home from work at 6 P.M.

    My Mother was a good cook and her meals were always very tasty but we seldom,if ever, had dessert,except on a Sunday. Then it would usually be apple pie. But that was not every Sunday.

    It wasn’t until I met my husband and had meals with his family that I had dessert regularly. Roy’s father was an apprentice baker in Germany and came to America at age 17 and landed a job with a baker here.

    After a few years he was able to open a small bakery of his own,but times were hard then and he had to think of ways to use up any baked goods that he didn’t sell that day. So, he would take all donuts,pound cakes, pastries,etc that he didn’t sell and blend them all together in a large pan with “Secret” ingredients and make what he called “Washington Cake”. It was delicious! Pretty soon people were coming in to buy it and they never knew it was yesterday’s leftovers. One piece of Washington cake was five cents and Pop sold out as fast as he could make it.

    I always wanted to eat at Mom and Pop’s house when they had Washington Cake for dessert.

  8. lilinator

    Here are the votes from members of the Collison household present:
    Tommy: 1) Apple cake 2) anything without chocolate
    John: 1) Apple crumble 2) Chocolate biscuit cake
    Lily: 1) Hot apple cake with natural yogurt, seeds and honey 2) Bruce Bogtrotter cake from Matilda. This is a rich chocolate cake. Got the recipe from a Roald Dahl ‘cookery book’ from library years ago.

    All this talk of dessert is making 3 people want some!

  9. wisewebwoman

    I have a list, GM, we always had our pudding too!!
    Marmalade pudding – steamed, remember that?
    Trifle of course, sherry, whipped cream, real custard.
    Rhubarb stew with icecream melting all over it.
    Blackberry tarts with fresh cream
    And one everyone hated but I loved – macaroni pudding with raisins.

  10. steph

    We had…

    stewed apple, baked apple, apple crumble, apple & raspberry splodge (cake mix on top), apple & blackberry tart, and apple & rhubarb pie, all served with custard (cream/ice cream when we had visitors).

    Bet you can’t you guess what fruit grew in our garden? 😐

  11. Annb

    On a cold winter’s day, steaming hot bread and butter pudding lost under layers of thick golden custard; it always made me feel like a princess.

  12. Baino

    I’ve never been one for desserts but my mother was English so there was always lemon meringue pie or steamed puddings or ‘fluff’ a combination of jelly and whipped Carnation milk (I guess a legacy of the war years). We’re more ‘fruity’ here I guess thanks to the plethora of fresh produce. One of my faves is a fruit platter of mangoes, strawberries, rockmelon, kiwi dipped in melted dark chocolate sauce . . .great way to get fussy eaters to gobble fruit! Oh and we’re pretty damn good at cheesecake!

  13. Grannymar Post author

    @Judy – That Angel food cake makes me drool!

    @Ramana – I would have to skip those milk puddings even though they sound good. Ice cream, now that is a different matter.

    @Alice – Baked egg custard wad my fathers favourite. In the days before Microwave ovens mammy heated the plates on a plate rack above the cooker or she put them in the oven with the dinner for a few minutes. They were really hot!

    @Nancy – That “Washington Cake” is a new one on me and has my teeth watering!

    @Lily – I had forgotten about Bruce Bogtrotter’s chocolate cake. Your Apple cake recipe yesterday set me off on a nostalgia trip.

  14. Grannymar Post author

    Baino, I like the idea of the fruit & chocolate dips. Dark chocolate I can haz! 😀

  15. Grannymar Post author

    Oops! I left some people out there in error.

    @WWW – I remember making marmalade pudding in school, can’t say I like it. Our school taught us every steamed pudding under the sun and very little else. I wonder if they were a staple food for the nuns?

    @Steph – We had 10 apple trees in the bottom half of the garden. One had apples that tasted like pears, then there were eight other eating varieties and one with cooking apples (tart).

    @Annb – Mammy made the bread & butter pudding, and queen of pudding but I had to pass on them because of the milk. 🙁

  16. Brighid

    My favorite was my granny’s steamed carrot cake with whiskey sauce, no, it was her real mince meat pie, no it was her homemade ice cream, not it was her… Oh jeez, I can’t decide. I miss you Granny!


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