26 April 2011

Sussex Pond Pudding, Traditional Method

This week I baked a Shaker Lemon Pie.  It was so delicious that Steve and I talked about it all week long (along the lines of, "Hey, don't you wish we still had some of that pie?").  Our pie made from a whole lemon reminded us of this pudding classic that we've talked about trying for months.  The Sussex Pond Pudding is made by enveloping a whole lemon in butter and sugar and steaming it in a suet crust.  When it's finished cooking, the lemon juice and butter spill out in a little "pond" around the pudding.

I first learned about the Sussex Pond Pudding in Laurie Colwin's food memoir, Home Cooking (though she calls it a Suffolk Pond Pudding).  In the book, Colwin recounts her experience cooking the pudding for a dinner party of less-than-enthusiastic guests.  One guest remarks that the steamed pudding resembles a baked hat and another that it looks a bit alien-like.  Both are fair comments.

Pudding Experiment #8
Date: Monday, 25 April 2011
Recipe: Sussex Pond Pudding
Method: Traditional, boiling water method
Cooking Time: 4 hours
Result: Delicious and theatrical pudding!

Evangelist's Response: The Evangelist was thrilled with the results of this pudding.  He announced that this pudding is "worthy of the heart attack it will surely give you."

Recorder's Response: This is an impressive pudding (despite looking like a baked hat).  The suet crust is absolutely delicious and putting a whole lemon inside a pudding is very fun for some reason.  I did find bites of the lemon a bit bitter, but the overall effect of the pudding was great.  I want to try this pudding with more of a Shaker Lemon Pie approach--cut out the butter and macerate the lemons before steaming the pudding.

Steve's Response: Steve loved this pudding too, but found it "disjointed" because the crust is so buttery and rich tasting and the lemon is SO sharp.  Steve believes strongly that a lime is always better than a lemon and is interested in trying a lime version of this pudding.

Sussex Pond Pudding

  • 200 grams self-rising flour (self-raising if you're in the UK or Commonwealth)
  • 100 grams shredded suet
  • cold milk to mix
  • 100 g cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • 100 grams soft brown sugar
  • 1 large, unwaxed lemon
  1. Butter a 1-litre pudding mould.
  2. Combine the flour and suet and add just enough milk to make a cohesive ball.  Knead for a few minutes and let rest for 10 minutes.
  3. Roll out 2/3 of the pastry and line the pudding mould with it.
  4. Toss together the butter and sugar and place half the mixture in the pastry-lined mould.
  5. Puncture the lemon all over with a fork or sharp skewer and push down into the butter/sugar mixture.
  6. Top the lemon with the remaining butter and sugar.
  7. Roll out the remaining pastry and place over the top of the pudding basin.  Crimp together the two crusts and cut off the excess pastry.  Make two slits in the top pastry.
  8. Cover with parchment paper and foil, tie up with a string and steam for 4 hours.  (See the Evangelist's notes in the sidebar for detailed steaming instructions.)

Here's the recipe in photographic form:

Start by making the suet crust.  The author of the recipe we used notes that "you could put suet pastry inside suet pastry, steam it for 3 or 4 hours and still please some folk."   I believe I may be one of those people.

Using scales to measure ingredients is the easiest way to cook (no measuring cups to clean!) and gives the best results.

Our suet looks a bit like ground meat.  We get it for free at the local butcher's shop.  It is delicious and unholy.

Your suet crust should have a texture similar to pie dough.

Let the extra pastry hang over the sides of your mould.

Then mix up the butter and sugar and pierce your lemon for the inside.

The lemon's in there.

Top crust completed.

Our pudding basin has a metal lid, but with the lid on it won't fit in the pot I wanted to use, so I tied it up in the traditional way.

Boil for 3 or 4 hours and don't be distressed that it doesn't look like a beautiful pie when you unwrap it.  It's a pudding.

We weren't sure if we'd ruined it or not when we first took off the foil.  It looks very extra-terrestrial here.

The lemon stays pretty well intact, but it's very, very soft.  Tasty!

1 comment:

  1. Excellent photos; very helpful. Thank you.