Sussex Pond Pudding
This traditional English pudding originates from Sussex, a county in the South East of England. It comprises a suet pastry encasing butter, sugar and lemons. This pudding can be steamed or boiled for a few hours, and it dates back to 1672. Although it is high in sugar and fat and has therefore been replaced with ‘healthier’ desserts by the health-conscious, if you really want to treat yourself to an authentic English dessert which dates back about 350 years, go ahead and prepare this Sussex pond pudding, and take a delicious bite of history. This recipes serves 6, or you could stretch it to 8 smaller portions.
There is a version of Sussex pond pudding known as currant pond pudding, and that is popular in both Sussex and Kent. In fact, we have made currants an optional ingredient in the following recipe. Bear in mind using these will make it a currant pond pudding instead. Choose thin-skinned, juicy lemons (preferably unwaxed) for this dessert, and beef suet if you can get it. If not, vegetable shortening or cold butter can be used in its place.
The reason for the name of this dessert comes from the fact that when you cut into the finished pudding, the thick sauce oozes out and pools around the plate, resembling a pond. The lemon skin will be soft and caramelized because of the long cooking time. This is the type of dessert to try after serving a British savoury pie for the main course, and it is especially satisfying during the cooler months.
- 2 unwaxed lemons
- 8¾ oz (250g) self-rising flour, plus more for dusting
- 3½ oz (100g) butter, plus more for greasing
- 3½ oz (100g) vegetable suet
- 5 fl oz (150ml) whole milk
- 3 ½ oz (100g) light brown sugar
- 2 oz (60g) currants (optional)
- Use a skewer to prick the lemons all over.
- Finely dice the butter and put it back in the fridge.
- Mix the suet into the flour, then add the milk.
- Knead until you have a dough.
- Divide it into 2 balls, one using ⅓ of the mixture and the other using ⅔ of the mixture.
- Sprinkle flour over a clean worktop and roll out the bigger ball.
- Use it to line the bottom and sides of a greased 1½ quart (1½ litre) pudding basin.
- Add half the sugar and half the chopped butter pieces.
- Add the currants if using.
- Put the whole lemons on top.
- Now add the remaining butter and sugar.
- Roll out the other dough ball and use it to top the pudding.
- Brush the edges with water and press to seal.
- Wrap the pudding in one large piece of baking paper.
- Tie under the basin rim with kitchen string to hold it down.
- Make a loose 'handle' over the top of the pudding using the string, then cut and tie.
- Trim off excess baking paper.
- Put the basin in a pan.
- Pour hot water into the pan about ⅔ of the way up.
- Cover and simmer for 3½ hours.
- You might need to top up the water during cooking.
- Let the pudding rest for 10 minutes.
- Turn it out on to a serving dish.
- Serve the Sussex pond pudding hot in wedges, ensuring each person gets some of the lemon.
This tasty, moist dessert is boiled on the stove rather than being baked in the oven. The original Sussex pond pudding dates back about 350 years and you only need a few ingredients to make it: flour, butter, suet, milk, sugar, and lemons. As the pudding bakes, the outside becomes solid while the inside turns into a thick, rich juice which runs out when you cut into the pudding, hence the name Sussex pond pudding. This recipe is very easy to make and takes about 3½ hours to cook. All you need to do is check it every half an hour and top up the water whenever necessary.
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