Sussex Pond Pudding

This is the best of all suet puddings. There are Kentish recipes, using sugar and butter and omitting the lemon; a Hampshire recipe, substituting an orange (which becomes rather bitter with cooking) and another which has a handful of soaked raisins squeezed together with the butter moulded round it. They are all good but the lemon is the best. None of the others is called β€œpond” pudding, although the butter and sugar also forms a pond on the dish when it is cut. There seems to be no North or West Country recipe of this kind.

Ingredients

  • ΒΎ lb (360 g) suet crust
  • 1 stick (120 g) butter (unsalted if possible), well chilled, plus 1 tablespoon (15 g) butter, softened
  • β…ž cup (180 g) demerara sugar
  • 1 lemon (large and juicy)

Method

Butter a large pudding bowl with the softened butter. Roll out the suet crust about ΒΎ inch (2 cm) thick and line the bowl with it. Reserve a circle for the lid.

Cut the butter into 8 pieces and put 4 of them into the bowl with half the sugar. Prick the lemon with a sharp skewer or knife point so that the juice can escape and press one end into the butter and sugar, so that it stands vertically. Press the rest of the butter and sugar around and over it. Dampen the crust around the edge of the bowl and press the lid down well, so that the lemon and filling are quite enclosed by the crust. Cover closely with foil and put a saucer over the foil.

Put about 3 inches (8 cm) of water into a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Stand the pudding in it and put on the lid. Keep just boiling for 3 hours; when the water gets low, pour in more boiling water. The water must never go off the boil.

To serve, lift the bowl out of the water, take off the foil and invert on to a rather large shallow dish. Lift off the bowl and stand the pudding in a low oven to dry off for a few minutes.