Tuesday, November 11, 2008

#90 Sussex Pond Pudding

The Sussex Pond Pudding. It is widely considered the best of the suet steamed puddings (or the best pudding full-stop). So good in fact, that Grigson doesn’t bother putting any other ones it; where’s Spotted Dick and jam roly-poly, please lady?? (To go off subject for a second; I’ve noticed a few glaring omissions from English Food, and am compiling a list, but it includes fish and chips, fish pie, scouse, spam fritters and stargazey pie amongst others, plus I can’t find a recipe for custard! I intend to fill in these gaps with the blog, and an unofficial Third Edition will then exist...). Anyway, Sussex Pond Pudding is essentially a suet crust filled with a whole lemon plus butter and sugar. When you turn it out, it bursts open and a moat of lemony sauce surrounds it. It’s very easy to make unless you’re Heston Blumenthal – it’s very unhealthy too, of course, but we don’t eat these everyday. I agree with Heston though – these sorts of puddings are going out of fashion in Britain, and it’s a shame. They’re easy to do and only require time to steam, so a check every 45 minutes to see if the steamer’s not boiled dry is all the work you need to do. The recipe serves 4 to 6 – it’s very rich. Serve with custard – real or packet, it don’t matter! I’ll give you the recipe I used for a proper Crème Anglaise at some point…


Start off by liberally buttering a 2 ½ pint pudding basin. Then make the suet pastry (the easiest pastry to make): Mix together 8 ounces of self-raising flour with four of chopped, fresh suet (you can, of course use the packet kind – even the vegetarian suet if you like, but fresh definitely give the best flavour, and it’s a lot cheaper!). Using a knife mix in enough half-and-half water/milk mixture to make a soft, but not tacky dough (about half a pint-ish). Roll this out into a large circle and cut-out a quarter. Pick up the dough and line the basin with it and press down the edges so that there will be no leakage. Next, cut up around three ounces of unsalted butter and place it in the bottom of the basin and pour over the same of sugar. Then, spear a large, unwaxed lemon several times with a skewer – this is very important, there will be no lemon sauce otherwise! Place the lemon on top of the butter and sugar and using equal amounts of more butter and sugar fill in any gaps around the lemon. With the remaining pastry roll out a circle and make a lid, again pressing down the edges to make a seal – use water as a glue. Steam for 3 to 4 hours. Turn it out and make sure everyone gets a bit of lemon – it should be soft enough to eat.

#90 Sussex Pond Pudding – 9.5/10. Absolutely divine! The centre turns into a sort of lemon curd, and the suet pastry goes beautifully crisp, golden and crunchy. Butters and I did chicken out of eating the lemon skin, but the lemon centre was a lovely sour-sweet mush. Is it the best suet pudding? Possibly. We should all try and make an effort and bring this sort of food back – it’s cheap, easy and gorgeous (you are what you eat, after all!). It's proper Sunday lunch fair, but goes well with the Thai food I made for Butters and me due to the lemoniness.

6 comments:

iain butters said...

9/10. mmmmmm, very nice winter warmer pudding, like Neil says, the lemon centre was delicious, even if we never ate the skin (maybe longer next time butters). a real nice treat it was with the crunch of the suet pastry. give it a go. I'd recommend for one and all.... (butters)

Neil B said...

It was a brill pud, weren't it!? I keep catching myself thinking about it. I may be in love...

purejuice said...

i've been reading about this for years. i've got to do this. if only i could find some suet....

Neil B said...

You can get packet suet from the supermarket in the home baking section and you can request fresh from the butchers. Veggie suet works well too. Fresh and packet are interchangeable weight-for-weight in these sorts of recipes.

Get it made!

Pete said...

Your estimate for the quantity of liquid needed to make the suet crust is quite a way off. This amount of flour/suet requires about 150g (or a quarter pint in old money). Thought I'd mention it in case a total novice wanted to give it a go. :)

Neil B said...

Thanks Pete - that's a typo! I meant a quarter of a pint... well done for spotting it, eagle eyes!