So she’s not a looker, it’s true. However, what she lacks in beauty she makes up for in an abundance of unadulterated saucy pleasure. She’s one of those gals who will give you a cheeky wink from across the room and you know that something wicked this way comes.
Puddings with a suet crust have fallen out of favour in recent times which is a travesty. Not only is it a revelation if you are only used to sponge puddings to lap up your Sunday Roasts but the preparation is a cinch, the suet crust so easy to handle and difficult to bugger up if you are a novice. You can pull it together in mere minutes, tie a quick foil lid on the top and then leave it steaming merrily in a big pot at the back of your hob whilst you get on with the roast beef and Yorkshire puds.
Traditionally the Pond Pudding is made with a whole lemon in the centre which gives a sharp contrast to the sticky butter filling and indulgent suet. However, I have yet to grow tired of my blood oranges this season and by lowering the sugar scale this citrus fruit allows a glorious tang to cut through the richness instead. This is not a fly by night whispy dessert and those of a fragile disposition should look away now. This classic English pudding takes no prisoners, and trumpets tradition in every moreish mouthful. It virtually transports you back in time to the 17th century when Hannah Woolley first wrote about it in The Queen-like Closet.
A little goes a long way and please douse this bewitching maiden with copious amounts of thick custard for full effect. Or, if you want to tone down the richness a downpour of double cream can let you off the hook.
Blood Orange Pond Pudding
Adapted from Jane Grigson’s Sussex Pond Pudding from ‘English Food’
250g self-raising flour
125g shredded beef suet
A pinch of salt
1 blood orange
150g unsalted butter
150g light brown caster sugar
- In a large bowl mix together the self-raising flour and beef suet and a pinch of salt.
- Stir the water and milk together and add to the flour and suet. Bring it all together into a smooth dough, add more liquid if it’s too dry.
- Roll into a circle, large enough to cover the inside of a 1 litre pudding bowl. Cut out ¼ of the circle and reserve for the top of the pudding.
- Butter the inside of the pudding bowl liberally, then take your large section of suet dough and place around the inside of the bowl, bring the cut sides together so there are no gaps.
- Sprinkle half of the sugar and drop half of the butter into the bottom of the pudding. Prick holes in the orange with a skewer then place the orange on top. Add the rest of the sugar and butter around and on top of the orange.
- Roll out the remaining ¼ of the suet dough into a circle, then place on top of the pudding to encase the orange, butter and sugar, pinching it together with the sides tightly.
- Make a lid for the pudding bowl by cutting out a piece of foil and a piece of greaseproof paper into circles a couple of inches larger than the top of the pudding bowl. Place the foil on top of the greaseproof paper then create a fold in the two layers by folding the middle of the two back in on themselves by a couple of centimetres so there is room for them to expand during the steam if necessary. Place the layers on top of the pudding bowl, greaseproof paper down, and fold down the bowl securing in place with string. Cut away the excess paper.
- Place the bowl in a steamer or in a large cooking pot on top of a trivet so that it doesn’t touch the bottom of the pan (use a folded up tea towel if that’s all you have). Pour in water so that it reaches halfway up the bowl, do not let it touch the foil or greaseproof paper otherwise the water will travel inside the pudding and make it soggy.
- Put the lid on the cooking pot and steam the pudding for 3½ hours.
- Remove the pudding bowl carefully from the cooking pot, remove the foil and paper lid and slide a pallet knife around the pudding to separate from the bowl. Place a plate on top of the pudding bowl and carefully turn upside down. Lift up the pudding bowl and the pudding should remain magnificently on the plate ready to serve.