I am sick of half-hearted desserts. Bring me a proper pudding.
January 25, 2018 6:00 AM   Subscribe

Guardian: "Part of the honourable tradition of British dishes with names to pique the interest more than the appetite (see also toad in the hole, spotted dick and cock-a-leekie), the Sussex pond pudding is sometimes claimed to be named for the dew ponds that pepper the South Downs..." Wikipedia: "Made of a suet pastry which encases a whole lemon, with butter and sugar, it is boiled or steamed for several hours." Recipes from the BBC, Independent, Baking Mad, Essex Eating and the Good Food Channel. Post title from an article in which the Sussex Pond Pudding is mentioned in several comments, a "This article was amended..." correction of heinous proportion, the Great British Bake Off pudding week, and selling Sticky Toffee Pudding to Americans (more).
posted by Wordshore (57 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite
 
Post reported in objection for making me hungry for gooey sweets after I just brushed my teeth.
posted by nicebookrack at 6:04 AM on January 25, 2018 [3 favorites]


I knew the post title was written by Jay Rayner even before I clicked on the article. He is the most delightful food writer going, IMHO, and I can't wait to read this essay too.
posted by kalimac at 6:15 AM on January 25, 2018 [5 favorites]


Stargazy pie!
posted by notyou at 6:17 AM on January 25, 2018 [2 favorites]


I enjoyed the Jay Rayner piece because his profile picture furious expression exactly matches the article title.
posted by Wordshore at 6:20 AM on January 25, 2018 [9 favorites]


Banoffee pie!

Just sayin’, America.
posted by droplet at 6:31 AM on January 25, 2018 [4 favorites]


God, I love those old stodgy British puddings. I just read the Sussex Down pud recipe from today!
posted by Kitteh at 6:32 AM on January 25, 2018 [2 favorites]


Less than twenty miles and a £5 bus ride away from me is the home of the Bakewell pudding. Three separate shops claim to have the one true original recipe, but so far the dispute hasn't broken out into fighting in the streets.

(I had my first one a few months back. It was...okay. They're probably better heated up a little.)
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 6:54 AM on January 25, 2018 [1 favorite]


Stargazy pie is one of those things that....well, you'd eat stargazy pie in an M John Harrison novel, especially the one about the giant creepy-sad alien grasshoppers. (Actually I had a dream last night in which they had started to invade and I was trying to tell everyone that I knew the plot to this one but no one believed me.)

Anyway! Inspired by these recent UK dessert posts, I am going to make Malvern Pudding this weekend. I was touched by the "forgotten foods of the Midlands" article that someone linked yesterday and have resolved to make all of them. I'm not really sure what the Midlands-equivalent region in the US would be - probably not Minnesota, because I think we're more in the "people think we have quaint dialects and that we are touchingly not-that-bright" category (Yorkshire? Wales?) Maybe the American Midlands would be the hinterlands part of the east coast?)
posted by Frowner at 7:00 AM on January 25, 2018 [2 favorites]


Banoffee pie!
Just sayin’, America.


Ahem. My contribution to a chilli cook off, couple years back. We are not all such philistines as you conceive.
posted by Diablevert at 7:03 AM on January 25, 2018 [1 favorite]


I enjoy all manner of British tarts, cakes and biscuits but I just cannot get behind desserts that require steaming, or suet. That's the precise line at which my Anglophilia ends and where I just have to walk away from GBBO shaking my head. The war is over, guys. You don't have to eat like that anymore.
posted by soren_lorensen at 7:06 AM on January 25, 2018 [4 favorites]


Also, why are Americans confused by the desserts of the UK? They seem pretty straightfoward to me, and very much in line with generic "American" tastes - heavy, starchy/fatty, fruit as a component or flavoring rather than the dominant item, lots of sugary sauces/fillings. You have only to compare a clafoutis with, eg, a Bakewell tart to see that UK desserts should be big, big sellers in the US. (I mean, I also like to make clafoutis, this is by no means a knock on French desserts.)
posted by Frowner at 7:06 AM on January 25, 2018 [2 favorites]


Syrup sponge is clearly the best of the British desserts.

If you want to try a ludicrously good syrup sponge in delightfully OTT surroundings I recommend Rules in London Covent Garden. It claims to be London's oldest restaurant (opened 1798), serves game from its own estate and has more stuffed things mounted on the wall than you can shake an elegant stick at. The syrup sponge was the best I've ever had.
posted by simonw at 7:09 AM on January 25, 2018 [4 favorites]


You know, one thing that kills me about having to reform my diet - minimal desserts. Guess it's an either or tradeoff for me - beer/wine or a dessert. boo. stupid diet.
posted by drewbage1847 at 7:15 AM on January 25, 2018 [2 favorites]


My only knowledge of Suffolk Pond Pudding is from Laurie Colwin’s Home Cooking, in a description of making it as her contribution to a dinner party:

My hostess looked confused. “It looks like a baked hat,” she said.
“It looks like the Alien,” said my future husband.
...
My host said, “This tastes like lemon-flavored bacon fat.”
“I’m sure it’s wonderful,” said my hostess. I mean, in England.”

posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 7:30 AM on January 25, 2018 [5 favorites]


Banoffee pie! Just sayin’, America.

Here in Phoenix, I'm constantly having to hide from banoffee pies. They're everywhere.
posted by meese at 7:54 AM on January 25, 2018 [2 favorites]


A tip to non-UK Rayner fans, old or as a result of this post: he hosts traveling radio panel show/podcast The Kitchen Cabinet which is a delight and a treat for anyone who likes to think about the regional historical and cultural anthropology of food such as puddings and enjoys people being funny and simultaneously passionate about food.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:01 AM on January 25, 2018 [6 favorites]


I'm not really sure what the Midlands-equivalent region in the US would be - probably not Minnesota, because I think we're more in the "people think we have quaint dialects and that we are touchingly not-that-bright" category

Familiar with both, the Midlands region of the UK oft seemed comparable to the Iowa/Wisconsin/South Minnesota region. The places that many others pass through or fly over on their way between the big cities; relatively cheap house prices compared to those big cities; a myriad of accent variations; mainly agricultural lands; landscapes which are gentle as opposed to spectacular or hostile; lots of rural places that are off those main arteries that people zoom along; sometimes looked down on - and accents mocked - by some of those same people who pass through and never stop; politically, socially and culturally complex, where communities even two miles apart seem strikingly different; and micro-local events which are often based around food and usually involve just locals and very rarely a tourist or wanderer.

(And before someone pedanticises with "Actually they are different because..." - yes, of course. I said similar, not identical. The weather and climate for one, which is more extreme at either temperature end in the Midwest USA to the English Midlands. And I break my leg in the US, treatment will oft be quick but my God expensive; do the same in the UK, then treatment will be free but I will probably have to wait many hours in the corridor of an overwhelmed and understaffed hospital beforehand.)

My host said, “This tastes like lemon-flavored bacon fat.”

That. I keep thinking that it was a huge missed opportunity not to have a little stall at the Iowa State Fair, selling Traditional English Puddings on a Stick. Heck, we would have cleaned up there. Dammit!
posted by Wordshore at 8:06 AM on January 25, 2018 [4 favorites]


Sussex Pond Pudding makes an appearance in MeFi favorite Yuletide story No Reservations: Narnia by Edonohana. Someone on my DW list ended up making it, and found it pretty tasty.
posted by suelac at 8:08 AM on January 25, 2018 [6 favorites]


A whole lemon, you say.

I am intrigued.

I've also never cooked with suet, don't own pudding basins, and would be essentially improvising like mad and never letting any actual British person within a mile of whatever abomination I came up with lest they feel honour-bound to avenge the insult to their cuisine.

But the results would be so tasty...

Yes, definitely intrigued.
posted by seyirci at 8:09 AM on January 25, 2018 [3 favorites]


Jay Rayner's very amusing (and in this instance correct) but I'd like to put a word in for the Felicity Cloake piece that opens the OP.

Her 'How to cook the perfect...' series is invaluable for anyone wishing to understand how traditional dishes are put together, what the trade-offs are w.r.t. which ingredients you use and which cooking methods you choose and so on. After cooking from one of her articles I feel like I know enough about the dish afterwards to do it again with an imperfect set of ingredients and without referring to the recipe i.e. I feel I'm a better cook rather than just being better at following instructions.
posted by tomp at 8:11 AM on January 25, 2018 [13 favorites]


I keep thinking that it was a huge missed opportunity not to have a little stall at the Iowa State Fair, selling Traditional English Puddings on a Stick. Heck, we would have cleaned up there. Dammit!

Can I get a nickle for every time you hear "That's not pudding, that's a cake"? I'd like to pay-off my son's school loans early.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:48 AM on January 25, 2018 [2 favorites]


I made a Sussex Pond pudding for Christmas a couple of years ago. I used suet. It was...ok. I wish I knew what I did wrong - the lemon bit was wonderful, but the pastry (is that the word?) was heavy and not very tasty at all. It was very exciting to cut into, though! That same year I made Nigella Lawson's Christmas Pudding and wasn't super impressed with that either - but again, I think it's me, not the recipe. Luckily, I don't think it's possible to screw up sticky toffee pudding. It's the best.
posted by kitcat at 8:49 AM on January 25, 2018 [1 favorite]


As soon as my eyes fell on the words "proper pudding" I knew this would be a Wordshore post.
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:58 AM on January 25, 2018 [5 favorites]


This is probably heresy, but you can use butter in the crust instead of suet. I started using butter in Christmas puddings, because I usually make several for different people, some of them vegetarian, and it certainly works in the Suffolk Pond Pudding.

The trick with the Pond Pudding is to poke the lemon all over with a thin knitting needle to let the juice out and flavour the butter/brown sugar mixture.
posted by Fuchsoid at 9:17 AM on January 25, 2018 [6 favorites]


This post was well-timed! I basically made a pudding for the first time last night. Sure, technically it was Boston brown bread, but I still steamed it for 3 1/2 hours in a coffee can in a big pot on the stove. It came out great! Now I want to make more puddings, since steaming wasn’t nearly as much work as I thought it would be. I think my next venture will be sticky toffee pudding.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 10:02 AM on January 25, 2018 [1 favorite]


Can I use this post to ask: if you're British, how on earth do you use the word "pudding"? Only for traditionally sack-boiled desserts and meaty atrocities? As a generic term for dessert ("dinner with pudding")? If you hear there's going to be pudding, what do you envision? Are there usages you find jarring?

Life has been sufficiently confusing lately that clarity on this important point would be a blessed thing.
posted by trig at 10:04 AM on January 25, 2018 [1 favorite]


if you're British, how on earth do you use the word "pudding"

Generally, though there are many exceptions, one considers dessert to be a predominantly sweet and relatively light dish which follows the main course.

A pudding, on the other hand, while also following the main course is perhaps not as sweet but is substantially heavier. A good pudding, one which makes the host proud, should make all diners groan, loosen clothing and feel heavy after eating, causing actual discomfort as they try and move from the dining table to the sofa. Because if you've had a respectable pudding, you aren't going to be doing anything else for a while as you are literally anchored by a suet-centric dish.

(sort-of related AskMe on Suet in the USA) (a lesser known Bruce Springsteen song)
posted by Wordshore at 10:13 AM on January 25, 2018 [8 favorites]


As a generic term for dessert ("dinner with pudding")?

This is my experience as an occasional tourist. The section of the menu that would be called "Desserts" in an American restaurant would likely be called "Puddings". You can have ice cream for pudding, for example.
posted by Rock Steady at 10:16 AM on January 25, 2018 [1 favorite]


All of my British former co-workers used "pudding" ("puds") to mean dessert generally, despite the traditional distinction Wordshore has provided.
posted by briank at 10:27 AM on January 25, 2018 [2 favorites]


I made jam roly poly on Saturday, something I haven't done since I was a kid. I have been full ever since. It was awesome.
posted by vbfg at 10:29 AM on January 25, 2018 [4 favorites]


I expect it's come to mean a generic dessert, but your true puddings must be able to be accurately described using the word 'claggy'.
posted by kalimac at 10:31 AM on January 25, 2018 [4 favorites]


Just asked my dining companion (who has read this thread, chuckled through it and says hello) to define a pudding (weird coincidence: we are currently in a castle in England and shortly will be eating... pudding!). Her definition, word for word:

It's the last bit of the meal and has to be so filling that several hours later you suddenly disappear off to the loo [American: toilet, restroom], to emerge a considerable time later ashen-faced and announcing to all that "Yeah, best leave that a few hours before using".
posted by Wordshore at 10:48 AM on January 25, 2018 [7 favorites]


Well this entire neighborhood is filled with alleys and low hanging lemons! Just yesterday I was thinking about a combo Bakewell / Clafoutis. They sell these bottled cherries at Trader Joes, and I was going to find some fresh hazelnuts maybe at Winco, and between Pecans and Hazel nuts toasted and ground, I was going to make a Clafoutis Bakewell, for next week. I never imagined out long baked lemons, that also intrigues me, big, thick slices of lemons, without seeds, with ginger syrup, in some sort of long baked / steamed format. Maybe a cobbler kind of thing, way slow baked. Hummmm.....
posted by Oyéah at 10:58 AM on January 25, 2018 [2 favorites]


This is my experience as an occasional tourist. The section of the menu that would be called "Desserts" in an American restaurant would likely be called "Puddings". You can have ice cream for pudding, for example.

Which means that you can have pudding for pudding! This is the most fun thing to say.
posted by Frowner at 11:20 AM on January 25, 2018 [4 favorites]


Many thanks!
(For years I thought I understood: pudding=dessert. But then came Pudding Week on the GBBO, which was clearly meant to be distinct somehow, and I was lost...)
posted by trig at 11:22 AM on January 25, 2018 [1 favorite]


he hosts traveling radio panel show/podcast The Kitchen Cabinet which is a delight and a treat

Enthusiastically seconded. Do go away and have a listen.

But not while hungry, unless you enjoy that particular variety of self-torture.
posted by Lexica at 11:37 AM on January 25, 2018 [3 favorites]


New York Sticky Toffee City. Love.
posted by The Bellman at 11:42 AM on January 25, 2018 [1 favorite]


I love the Kitchen Cabinet. It ticks all my boxes: food, Anglophilia, food history, Jay Rayner, and lovely co-hosts on the panel. It was the show where I realized I had quite the crush on Tim Anderson.
posted by Kitteh at 11:47 AM on January 25, 2018 [3 favorites]


I started using butter in Christmas puddings, because I usually make several for different people, some of them vegetarian, and it certainly works in the Suffolk Pond Pudding.

How can you have any pudding if you don't eat your meat?
posted by Daily Alice at 11:54 AM on January 25, 2018 [13 favorites]


I've seen a show on television in the last 10 years where people (In England, I guess) go to a pudding event, where the goal is to eat as many puddings as humanly possible as though they are courses in a dinner? Does anyone know what I'm talking about? It's both horrifying and delightful to watch, and the attendees are all so charming and complimentary of the puddings. I really would like to attend one of those someday.
posted by kitcat at 12:25 PM on January 25, 2018 [1 favorite]


I've seen a show on television in the last 10 years where people (In England, I guess) go to a pudding event, where the goal is to eat as many puddings as humanly possible as though they are courses in a dinner? Does anyone know what I'm talking about?

Those are common in these parts of rural England and I am contemplating attending one this very Saturday; it's reminded me to book and nudge them to advertise it better. The advert (Facebook post link) reads:

Pudding Heaven Saturday 27th January
We have been kindly asked to circulate this forthcoming event on behalf of St Andrews Church at Prestwold.
Pudding Heaven
Try a selection of delicious puddings!
Venue Hoton, Cotes and Prestwold Village Hall
Saturday January 27th at 7.30pm
Tickets £5 each
All monies raised go towards to fundraising for the upkeep of St Andrews Church.
Please book your tickets in advance with [personal details]


I attended a nine pudding dinner a few years back, where I learnt of the benefits of wearing clothing that was all elasticated. Oh also there's that hotel south of here in the woods that used to offer "Pudding weekends" to newlyweds - if you had been married for less than a month, you could dial from your room for complimentary pudding which would be left outside your "Do not disturb" door.
posted by Wordshore at 12:37 PM on January 25, 2018 [7 favorites]


…(weird coincidence: we are currently in a castle in England and…

Of course you are! Because England. You are doing nothing to correct my American stereotype fantasia of how my English friends all secretly live.
posted by los pantalones del muerte at 1:44 PM on January 25, 2018 [3 favorites]


One of my favorite restaurants here in New Orleans is Balise and when my wife and I eat there we always get the sticky toffee pudding with salted pecans and smoked vanilla ice cream.

Last time we were there - for her birthday celebration no less - the sticky toffee pudding was dry and I mean the taste was okay and the sauce was good but the pudding itself was just ... sad. and dry. She really hates when a food that's supposed to be moist is dried out. It's like her biggest food pet peeve.

She was very sad.

anyway hi, thanks for this post and for telling me that Whole Foods stocks a sticky toffee pudding of decent repute. I drove there on my lunch break and bought two of the single-serving size ones and I'll present them to her tonight as a make-up dessert. Fingers crossed that they pass muster.
posted by komara at 2:32 PM on January 25, 2018 [1 favorite]


Britthink Amerithink warns Britons not to call dessert pudding when they cross the pond: "they'll think you are one"
posted by brujita at 2:45 PM on January 25, 2018 [1 favorite]


Only for traditionally sack-boiled desserts and meaty atrocities?

Are you addressing the great chieftain of the pudding race?
posted by Ashwagandha at 4:07 PM on January 25, 2018


The Pudding Club.
posted by Martha My Dear Prudence at 5:04 PM on January 25, 2018


I just cannot get behind desserts that require steaming

If you can't be arsed with steaming, about 7 mins in a microwave will do the trick.
posted by HiroProtagonist at 5:24 PM on January 25, 2018


"Tickets £5 each
All monies raised go towards to fundraising for the upkeep of St Andrews Church a tontine for any survivor."
posted by sebastienbailard at 10:54 PM on January 25, 2018 [1 favorite]


Any reliable recipes for sticky toffee pudding anyone’s willing to recommend?

I’m daunted by the recipes for the Sussex pond pudding—equal parts flour and fat? (And clearly, there’s pudding-making knowledge I just don’t have, in terms of how I’m supposed to pleat the top etc.)
posted by leahwrenn at 11:18 PM on January 25, 2018 [1 favorite]


My SIL lives in England (Billericay, to be precise) and my in-laws are over there like four or five times a year. They always bring me back tea or foodstuffs that are harder to find here in Ontario--but you can find A LOT of UK food products here--so this time I think I want a pudding basin.
posted by Kitteh at 4:11 AM on January 26, 2018 [1 favorite]


For those unsure of the usage of the word in British English, "pudding" can mean "dessert" but it also is a (number of) types of dessert, also cake-like products which may or may not be served as part of dessert but can be eaten at another time (ie, Bakewell pudding) and if that's not confusing enough it's several different kinds of savoury dish (and, and, and)

Given the time of year it might be of interest to note that some consider haggis to be a form of pudding and that's kind of right too.

See? Simple.
posted by auntie-matter at 4:20 AM on January 26, 2018 [1 favorite]


British person... honour-bound to avenge the insult to their cuisine

Goodness, that's the first time I've ever heard anyone think that might even be a possibility. We're usually too busy apologising for it.

The war is over, guys. You don't have to eat like that anymore.

That's fine, I'll just keep all the Christmas pudding for myself, then. But I do kind of understand this... when taken out to eat in China, I found myself thinking "hey, you have money now, you don't have to eat every part of the animal any more..."
posted by 43rdAnd9th at 5:37 AM on January 26, 2018 [3 favorites]


I really don't understand how you can boil pudding.
posted by runcibleshaw at 6:09 AM on January 26, 2018 [1 favorite]


But..? How else would you make a pudding if not by boiling?

Just get a pile of things (Flour, Suet, Breadcrumbs, Sugar, Milk, Egg, Raisins, Cinnamon, Ginger, Mixed Spice)* mix em up, wrap them in a cloth and boil them in a pot of water for 3 hours. Perfectly normal.


*This is for clootie dumpling, which is a fruit pudding. Replace with insides of a sheep or some pigs blood as required if you want a different pudding.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 7:38 AM on January 26, 2018 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter: Replace with insides of a sheep or some pigs blood as required.
posted by Wordshore at 8:53 AM on January 26, 2018 [3 favorites]


2 in a row. O frabjous day!
posted by theora55 at 2:09 PM on January 26, 2018 [1 favorite]


> 'How to cook the perfect...' series
Oh my, I started reading some of these close to dinnertime, and now there's nothing in the house that will do. Not at all. I'll have a prefectly fine sadwich before my friends pick me up to go out, but I'll be making boeuf bourguignon soon, perfect or im-.
posted by theora55 at 2:18 PM on January 26, 2018 [1 favorite]


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