Sussex is a county in the south-east region of England and these are a collection of local and regional recipes handed down within families who have lived and worked in the Sussex area. All of the recipes below are regionally authentic, originally coming from recipe books published in the 1800s or 1900s, with the weights and measurements adjusted (alongside the old standards) where appropriate for the modern kitchen.
SUSSEX POND PUDDING
For the suet pastry: 225g of self-raising flour, 115g suet shredded (fresh or packet), 60g fresh white breadcrumbs, 1/2 tsp sea salt, 125ml milk. For the filling: 1 large lemon, 115g of natural brown sugar (Demerara), 115g of butter.
Method: Making The Suet Pastry: Into a mixing bowl sieve in the flour and salt and mix in the breadcrumbs (if using fresh suet chop / shred it very small, until it resembles breadcrumbs). Mix in the fresh or packet suet into the flour and make a well in the centre. Gradually mix in the milk until the dough is soft and comes away from the sides of the bowl. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead it gently until it is free from cracks and is silky (but not ‘wet’) add more flour if needed to stiffen the dough into something resembling a light pastry.
Making The Sussex Pond Pudding:
Grease a 1 & 1/2 pint (850ml) pudding basin thickly with butter.
Roll out the suet crust pastry into a large circle on a floured work surface. With a sharp knife cut out a quarter segment of the pastry circle and reserve to use as the pudding lid. Put the remaining pastry into the greased pudding basin to line it. Press the cuts together to seal. Pack half the butter flakes and half the sugar into the bottom of the suet crust lining. Place on top of this the whole lemon – wash the lemon, trim the ends if it needs it and prick the surface all over with a sharp skewer. Cover with the remaining butter and sugar.
Roll out the reserved quarter of pastry into a circle to fit as a lid to the pudding. Damp it around the edges with a little water and put it on top of the pudding and press the edges to seal them. Pack the pudding down a little – the level of the pudding should be about 3cm (1.5 inches) below the top of the basin (or less). Cut a round, large sheet of greaseproof paper and one of foil slightly bigger so they will come down at least 10cm (4 inches) over the sides of the basin.
Lay the baking parchment on top of the foil and fold a large pleat down the centre of both (to allow for any pudding expansion). Lay the sheets over the top of the pudding basin (foil side up) and secure around the sides with string – wrap the string around the pudding basin several times tightly and tie the string off to make sure the foil top is secured down firmly and the pudding is sealed.
Trim off any excess foil and paper if it is too long. You can even make a string handle by looping it over the top and tying it off under the string going around the basin. Stand the pudding basin in a deep saucepan (which has a tight fitting lid) on an upturned heatproof plate (or metal bars etc.) to raise it off the bottom of the saucepan – add a little water under the plate to get rid of any air pockets. Pour in boiling water to come just under half way up the side of the pudding basin.
Keep the water at a medium simmer and a gentle bubble, cover with a tight fitting lid and steam for 3 and a 1/2 hours, topping up with boiling water from time to time. It is important to keep checking the level of the water every so often so that it does not run dry.
When steamed remove the string, foil and greaseproof paper and turn the pudding out carefully on to a shallow dish or plate with a rim (to contain the ‘pond’ of sweet-buttery sauce) – cut into slices with a sharp knife and serve hot with custard, cold-thick cream, or a traditional lemon sauce. Include a little bit of the candied lemon from the centre of the pudding and some of the pudding sauce on each plate.
8 eggs, 1 lb (500g) plain flour, 1 lb (500g) currants, 4 oz (115g) mixed peel, 1/8 pint (75ml) brandy or rum, 1 pint (600ml) cream, 1 lb (500g) beef suet, 1/2 lb (250g) raisins, 1/4 lb (125g) cane sugar, a grating of nutmeg.
Beat up the eggs and mix with cream and flour. Beat this mixture well and add finely-chopped suet, currants, peel, raisins (stoned and chopped), nutmeg and sugar. Mix in the brandy or rum. Put in a cloth (first wetting cloth in boiling water and then sprinkling it with flour) and boil for 4 hours. Take out of cloth and dredge with sugar. Sufficient for 10 – 12 people.
2 lb (1kg) potatoes, 1/2 lb (250g) fresh butter, 8 egg yolks, 3 whites of an egg stiffly whipped, 1/2 lb (250g) castor sugar, 1/2 (300ml) pint of white wine or rather less cooking sherry, 1/2 grated nutmeg, 1/2 pint (300ml) of cream, 1 lb (500g) puff pastry.
Boil the potatoes until soft and mash or put through a sieve. Add melted butter and the beaten yolks of egg. Then add the egg whites, sugar and wine, stirring well. Grate in nutmeg, then stir in the cream. Line the bottom and sides of a deep soufflé dish or casserole with the puff pastry, pour in the mixture and bake until a golden brown in a medium hot oven. Time about 1 1/2 hours. Sufficient for 10 – 12 people.
From the ‘Dictionary Of The Sussex Dialect’, By Rev. W. D. Parish, Vicar Of Selmeston, Sussex, published by Farncombe & Co. Lewes, printed in 1875
Plum-heavy. A small round cake made of pie-crust, with raisins or currants in it. [In 1859] Dr. J. C. Sanger, of Seaford, when Government Surgeon at the Cape of Good Hope, [South Africa] was sent for to see an English settler. Reaching the house at tea-time, he joined the family at their meal, and on sitting down to the table he said, “You come from Sussex.” ” Yes,” was the answer, “from Hurstmonceux, but how did you know that?” “Because you have got plum-heavies for tea,” said the doctor, ” which I never saw but when I have been visiting in Sussex.”