In 1861 Jam Roly-Poly Pudding was actually called by Mrs. Beeton Roly-Poly Jam Pudding and it was a firm favourite Victorian Dessert. It’s name comes from ‘roly-poly’ being a slang word for anything round, but in poorer areas of town it was also known as shirt-sleeve pudding – because it was often steamed or boiled in an old shirt-sleeve, a cheap replacement for a muslin cloth. And because of this another nickname for the pudding came about, it was also called dead-man’s arm.
Today some people dismiss these types of puddings as ‘stodgy’ – the word ‘stodge’ (meaning a ‘heavy’ filling meal) first came about from an association with these suet steamed puddings being served at school for dessert. However, the world is split between those that have had jam roly-poly pudding, and those who are going to have jam roly-poly … and we are slightly envious of the latter group who get to taste this magical dish for the first time. We cannot imagine at least one winter’s night without sitting down to this British classic pudding – serve it to guests at a fancy dinner party and you will watch them all melt back to childhood. If you prefer you can make the quicker oven method Jam Roly-Poly | Baked Recipe.
Jam Roly-Poly Recipe
Serves 5. The ingredients in this recipe can easily be reduced by half to make a smaller jam roly-poly if you wish (22cm x 20cm rectangle) or even doubled to make a very big one.
Tip: use a well floured work surface to roll the suet dough out as you do not want the dough once rolled to stick to the work surface after you have spread the jam on it. Note: you can use fresh or packet suet, and for vegetarians there is a vegetarian type of suet substitute to purchase. You can also use a home-made Raspberry Jam or Strawberry Jam in this recipe.
- 430g plain flour (sifted)
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 120g shredded suet
- 90g unsalted butter melted
- 100ml water (the amount of water needed to bind the dough will vary)
- 170g strawberry or raspberry jam (warmed)
- a little water (for brushing)
Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl. Add the salt, shredded suet, melted butter and sufficient water to create a soft, but not sticky, dough (or what is known as a ‘suet paste’). Use a wooden spoon to bring everything together and then finish off with your fingers, mixing everything thoroughly and gently. The dough should be smooth and moist, but not too sticky, add more flour or water if needed.
Leave the dough covered in the fridge for twenty minutes. Then turn the dough out onto a floured work area and gently knead for a minute. Once you are happy with the consistency of the ‘suet paste’ re-flour the work area, so nothing will stick, and roll out to a rectangle about 30cm x 48cm at about 5mm thick (quite thin). Just lightly trim the edges neatly with a knife so the edges are about straight.
Warm a little jam in a saucepan or in a bowl in a microwave. Brush the middle of the pastry with the warmed jam, making a thick layer, but leaving a narrow 1 cm border all round the edges. Brush the plain border with a little milk to help seal it.
With the one of the short sides nearest you, roll up the pastry into a log shape (loosely, but neatly, to give the layers in the roll space to expand) and seal the ends well by pinching them and then folding them under. Note: Try to get at least three or four good ‘full’ rolls in. You need to carefully lift, then roll – if you try to just roll then the jam can be ‘pushed’ and ‘squeezed’ away from you, ending up at the other end of the roll. This is why it is essential that the dough is not sticking to the work surface after rolling it out.
Wrapping The Roly-Poly: This is to help keep it’s round shape and keep most of the water out of the steaming /boiling process. The jam roly poly will be placed on two layers, a rectangle of baking parchment and a similar one of foil, both of which are a little longer than the roly-poly. Place the foil sheet under the baking parchment. To allow room for a little expansion add a ‘pleat’ into them. A pleat is made by folding the paper and foil layers over on itself, then after several centimetres re-fold it back to it’s full length, leaving the folded pleat in place.
Sit the roly-poly on the parchment, seam side down, on the first 1/3rd of the paper closest to you. Bring the baking parchment and foil up and around the roly-poly from the front edge, then roll the whole thing over, keeping the round shape, and enclosing the roly-poly in paper. Twist the ends of the baking parchment to seal. Finally wrap the whole thing either in a muslin cloth (ideal) or a clean tea-towl (or even an old shirt sleeve). Tie the ends of this package with baker’s string to stop it coming undone.
Boiling / Steaming: Sit the roly-poly package on a rack or heat proof plate (so that it is a few centimetres or so off the bottom) inside a steam bath, fish kettle or a large roasting tin, and fill it with boiling hot water, making sure that the water only just covers the roly-poly package. As it gently boils / steams the water will expand. Put the lid on the steam bath or cover the roasting tin with a foil cover and steam/boil – leaving it to simmer on a cooker ring on a low-medium heat for 2 hours (make sure it never runs dry of water). After 2 hours of remove the pudding from the cloth and paper, cut into slices and serve hot with with home-made Vanilla Custard.