I really spoiled my Todd today. He is from the generation that was raised on hearty, stodgy school dinners . . . plates filled with cooked to the death cabbage and vegetables and meat . . . not all that appealing to most people, but there are still a few brave souls about who loved them.
I never had the priviledge of experiencing them myself, but I really think I would have been one of the lovers.
The best part of school dinners was the pudding . . . spotted Dick, jam roly poly, treacle sponge . . . all delicious and hearty and very filling.
I have wanted to make Sussex Pond Pudding for a long time. As you know I love lemon anything and, from the very first time I read about it, I had the inclination to make one.
Sussex Pond Pudding is a traditional English suet pudding, believed to have originated in the county of Sussex. A rich suet pastry encases a delicious filling of brown sugar and butter, with a whole lemon situated in the centre. As the pudding steams, the lemon softens and flavours the butter and brown sugar, the whole mixture amalgamating to form a deliciously rich sauce, which oozes out onto the plate when the pudding is cut open to serve.
After cooking for so long, the skin of the lemon almost candies like a marmelade in its own juices and that of the butter and sugar. It is said that only the very "hardiest" of souls are brave enough to eat the 'frog' as it is called, the suet crust and the sauce being the best parts.
But do scrape out the inside flesh of the lemon to mingle with that buttery rich deliciousness . . . Yes, it is seriously indulgent . . . but a wonderful once in a blue moon treat. Why not go whole hog and serve it up with lashings of cream???
Why not indeed! It should come with a health warning, of course, but what a way to go!
*Sussex Pond Pudding*
serves 4 to 6
A deliciously rich pudding with a wonderful butter lemon flavour. This is fabulous!
120g self raising flour, sifted
100g fresh soft white breadcrumbs
the finely grated zest of one unwaxed lemon, plus 1 whole lemon
120g shredded suet
pinch of salt
about 90ml of milk, more less as needed
100g cold butter, diced
100g light muscovado sugar (or soft light brown if that's all you have)
Whisk the flour, breadcrumbs, lemon zest, suet and salt together in a large bowl. Add just enough milk to bring the dough together. Roll the dough out to a circle large enough to fit into a 1 litre pudding basin. Cut a wedge out of it, using about 1/4 of the circle. Take the remaining piece of the circle and place it into the pudding basin, pressing it to fit and pressing the cut edges together so there are no holes. Trim the top leaving just a bit of overhang. Take the lemon and roll it on your work top to release the juices, then prick it all over with a toothpick or skewer. Remove any stem if present and discard. Place half of the sugar and butter into the bottom of the pastry lined basin. Top with the pricked lemon. Place the remaining butter and sugar around the sides. Shape the wedge which you have removed from the pastry, along with any trimmings into a ball, and then roll it out into a ccircle large enough to cover the top of the bowl. Place this lid on top of the lemon/sugar mixture. Brush the edges with milk and then fold them over top of the lid, sealing it completely.
Cut a large circle of baking paper. Fold a pleat in the centre to allow for expansion and then fit it over the top of the pudding basin, tying it in place with some string. Place the pudding basin in a large pan with boiling water that comes halfway up the sides. Cover and cook over low heat for 2 1/2 hours, checking from time to time and replenishing water as needed.
When the 2 1/2 hours are up, carefully remove the pudding basin from the pot. Remove the baking paper and string. Run a knife around the edge of the pudding. Place a deep plate on top and invert it. Serve warm and in wedges with the buttery sauce that spills out and if you are feeling really indulgent, lashings of cream!