Recipe: The perfect Sussex pond pudding
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Sussex-born chef Joe Fox, who is now head chef at the Townsend restaurant in London, shares how to make the classic British dessert..
Sussex pond pudding, also known as 'well pudding', can trace its history back to 17th century Sussex. Formed of suet pastry, it's filled with butter and sugar, and has a whole lemon popped inside before being boiled or steamed for several hours.
Joe says: ‘I first served pond pudding at Mark Hix’s Soho restaurant, as it was a regular on the feasting menus. You can also make the pond pudding with bergamot or orange. The whole lemon inside serves two purposes. Firstly to hold the pudding up, and secondly to permeate the rich buttery sauce with a delicate lemony flavour as it cooks.’
Sussex Pond Pudding
250g self-raising flour
125g shredded beef suet
300g unsalted butter, softened and extra for greasing
200g soft light brown sugar
1 large unwaxed lemon
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Mix the flour and suet together in a bowl, then gradually mix in the milk to form a dough. The dough should be soft enough to roll out.
Roll out the dough to a circle large enough to line a 1.5 litre pudding basin. Cut a quarter out of the circle for the lid and to ease the lining of the bowl. Butter the pudding basin well, drop the pastry into it and join the edges where the quarter was removed.
Mix the sugar and butter together and put into the lined basin. Prick the lemon all over with a fork or a skewer. This allows the juice to escape when cooking. Push the lemon into the butter mixture.
Remould the pastry for the top and roll it out to the correct size. Lay it on top of the filling and press the edges together to seal in the filling. Cover the top of the basin with a generous piece of foil, making a pleat down the middle to allow for expansion. Secure in place under the rim with string, making a string handle so it can be lifted easily.
Lower the pudding into a pan containing enough boiling water to come about halfway up the side of the basin. Cover and simmer for 4 hours, topping up with boiling water when necessary.
To serve, use the string to lift out of the basin and allow it to stand for 30 minutes, then remove the foil and loosen the sides with a small sharp knife. Put a deep serving dish over the basin and quickly turn the whole thing upside down – it may collapse a little but the flavour will be incredible.