Partwork of the honourable custom of British dishes with names to pique the curiosity greater than the urge for food (see additionally toad within the gap, noticed dick and cock-a-leekie), the Sussex pond pudding is usually claimed to be named for the dew ponds that pepper the South Downs – although what thirsty cattle would make of the lemon syrup that fills this specific pond is anybody’s guess.
According to Regula Ysewijn’s marvellous survey of what’s certainly our best contribution to world delicacies, Pride And Pudding, the dish first pops up in Hannah Wolley’s 1672 assortment The Queen-like Closet, and although it has been by a number of iterations since then, the essential concept – a smooth, wealthy pastry case enclosing a candy, buttery fruit filling – has by no means gone out of vogue.
It’s the proper dessert for this time of 12 months, when citrus fruit is at its finest and the climate requires one thing extra sturdy than an orange fruit salad or a lemon sorbet: shiny and zingy, heat and comforting, the Sussex pond pudding is British stodge at its best.
Though the fruit filling will get all the eye, the spine of any such pudding is its pastry – and right here which means suet. (Unusually, I discovered no recipes that substitute butter, although you could after all use a vegetable suet should you favor; word these are sometimes made with palm oil.) For these of you unaware of the provenance of these little white maggots of their cheerfully colored cardboard field, suet is the arduous fats from round a cow’s or sheep’s kidneys, prized for its excessive melting level, which produces wealthy however deliciously gentle pastry. Traditionally, it could have been offered recent, however lately it’s most generally out there in floury dehydrated type, although a very good butcher ought to be capable of get you the right type with a little bit discover.
Indeed, Jane Grigson stipulates recent suet in English Food, and I additionally deploy it within the recipe provided by 1 H J Glover to Florence White’s 1932 compilation Good Things In England, who claims to have been given it in Chailey by “a nursemaid in 1880 or thereabouts”, inserting it firmly within the pre-Atora period. It provides a richer, solely very faintly beefy outcome that testers say remind them of correct chips (no vegetarian choices in right this moment’s piece, unsurprisingly). If you’ll be able to supply the stuff, give it a attempt, however on the idea that most individuals will go for the shredded type, I’ve examined the recipe beneath with that.
Modern variations use elevating brokers to present suet pastry a little bit further raise, although as this appears to be a comparatively current addition, I depart it out of Glover’s “good suet crust” with predictably dense outcomes – you could possibly most likely kill somebody with such a cannonball. Delia Smith provides breadcrumbs to her pastry, presumably to take in the fats and make it further gentle, however they don’t appear to contribute a lot, so except you might have some in want of utilizing up, I’d hold it plain.
In reality, plain needs to be the watchword right here: the pastry ought to act as fluffy foil to the intensely flavoured filling, which, to my thoughts, guidelines out the cream Ysewijn makes use of to moisten it (too wealthy), or the sugar, eggs and currants in Glover’s recipe. Even the lemon zest in Smith’s pastry appears like gilding the lily, given the slices of fruit inside, however Ysewijn’s cinnamon is a intelligent contact, a nod to the spice in Wolley’s authentic recipe. I’m not the largest fan of cinnamon, or of the vanilla Jane Hornby makes use of in her model for BBC Good Food journal, so I’m going to make use of ginger as a substitute, however be happy to go along with your personal favorite candy spice; or, certainly, depart it out altogether should you’re feeling notably puritan.
Hornby’s “Sussex puddle pudding” is a fast different, baked within the oven, with a suet crust over a lemon butter sauce studded with chunks of the stewed fruit, relatively just like the world’s tartest upside-down cake. Though testers suppose it wants extra pastry to stability out the gloriously sweet-and-sour “puddle”, it’s a very good possibility should you’re pressed for time.
Interestingly, although it’s now typically referred to as a lemon pudding, early variations include no such factor: Glover’s filling is solely fruit-free, and Wolley suggests utilizing apple or gooseberries. According to Ysewijn, Grigson’s 1974 recipe is the primary to incorporate an entire lemon – an impressed alternative as a result of, although this isn’t essentially the most comely of desserts to have a look at, the sight of a sunshine yellow fruit amid a collapsing heap of beige pastry makes it significantly extra spectacular. A showstopper for the pre-Instagram age, if you’ll, and 1 copied with appreciable success by 1 H Blumenthal in his much-hyped hidden orange Christmas pudding for a widely known grocery store a number of years in the past.
Smith slices the fruit for her particular person variations and Hornby mixes grated zest and chunks of flesh, however for sheer drama, you’ll be able to’t beat Grigson’s model: remember to use an unwaxed instance, and relatively than pricking it to set free the juices, as she suggests, I’d advocate slashing it virtually proper by to make sure it softens correctly. If you’re going to sort out an entire lemon, belief me, it’s higher cooked.
If you’re not eager on lemons, you may nicely favor Ysewijn’s chunks of apple as a substitute (ensure you use an consuming, relatively than cooking selection, in order that they don’t dissolve into mush); or Catherine Phipps’ suggestion of kumquats in her ebook Citrus, which sound like a very good selection for particular person puddings. Mary Berry makes use of lemon and apple in her recipe, packing the pudding full to remain the standard collapsing impact, whereas Grigson claims she has additionally used limes with appreciable success. The tartness of lemon, nonetheless, takes some beating.
Suet pastry and fruit can be scrumptious on their very own, however the Sussex pond is a special-occasion pudding: should you’re going to steam one thing for 4 hours, you could as nicely make it a dish to knock the collective socks off. Butter is, after all, a should, paired variously with white, golden, demerara and lightweight muscovado sugar: testers are notably offered on the caramel flavour of the final, although all work nicely, so use whichever you occur to have handy.
If you’re not courageous sufficient to stay in an entire lemon, I’d recommend including some grated zest to the filling combination, even should you’re filling it with apples or different fruit: the bitterness is a superb counterpoint to the wealthy pastry and buttery syrup sauce.
Traditionally, these puddings would have been boiled in a fabric – a technique I attempt for Glover’s model. Surprisingly, it’s relatively much less faff than buttering and wrapping a bowl, however boiled pudding is certainly damper and sturdier than its steamed counterparts, so I wouldn’t advocate it besides in extremis.
Far simpler to make use of a basin (or many basins should you’re making particular person variations, which additionally get pleasure from taking 1/2 the time to prepare dinner), nicely buttered and base-lined, too, as Ysewijn suggests to insure towards sticking. (Suet puddings not often do, in my lucky expertise, however higher protected than sorry.) She additionally provides the revelatory info that puddings will be steamed in a bain-marie within the oven, which is far simpler than doing it on the stovetop and with far much less in the best way of steamy home windows. Plus, it leaves area free on the hob for a pan of custard. Perfect.
The Perfect… Sussex pond pudding
150g self-raising flour
80g shredded suet
1 pinch salt
½ tsp floor ginger (elective)
100g butter, cubed, plus further to grease
100g smooth brown sugar
1 unwaxed lemon
Generously grease a 750ml pudding basin and line the bottom with greaseproof paper. Heat the oven to 180C/350F/fuel mark 4 (if utilizing) and boil the kettle.
Put the flour, suet, salt and ginger in a big bowl and whisk to mix. Mix the milk and water, and pour into the bowl. Stir to carry it collectively right into a agency dough, including a little bit extra liquid or flour if it feels too dry or too smooth.
Set apart 1 / 4 of the pastry, for the lid, and roll out the remainder on a frivolously floured floor till simply giant sufficient to line the basin (ensure it isn’t too skinny).
Toss collectively the butter and sugar, and put most of this in a layer within the backside. Cut the lemon virtually however not wholly throughout a couple of quarter of the best way up; repeat on the other aspect midway up, and eventually from the other aspect three-quarters of the best way up: the lemon ought to nonetheless be roughly intact whenever you put it within the basin. Pack spherical it with the remaining butter and sugar.
Roll out the remaining pastry to make a lid, moisten the pastry across the rim of the basin with water, then pop on the lid and press the 2 collectively firmly.
Cut out one other 2 circles of paper 10cm bigger than the highest of the basin, and fold a pleat into the centre (this may give the pudding room to breathe). Top the basin with the pleated paper and safe with string, looping it first across the rim after which throughout the highest to make a deal with (if that is your first time, there are extra detailed directions right here).
Put the basin in a steamer or on an upturned saucer in a pan giant sufficient to carry it absolutely, and pour in boiling water to return a 3rd of the best way up the edges of the basin. Bring to a simmer, cowl and put within the oven for about 4 hours, topping up the water as needed.
Lift the basin from the pan, reduce off the deal with and paper, and end up the pudding on to a plate with a lip across the edge, to catch the juices inside whenever you reduce into it; the pudding will sag, however don’t fear – seems aren’t all the things with suet puddings, in spite of everything. Cut into parts (ideally straight by the lemon which is now on the prime of the pudding, and serve with chilled cream.
• Is Sussex pond pudding the “best of all English boiled suet puddings”, as Jane Grigson suggests, or would you make a case for noticed dick, jam roly-poly or, certainly, plum pudding? What do you set inside yours – and is the trendy model a Grigson invention, or can anybody keep in mind a recipe utilizing lemon from earlier than 1974?
Photography: Dan Matthews for the Guardian. Food stylist: Jack Sargeson
Food assistant: Jessica Griffiths
Felicity Cloake from theguardian.com