It seems amazing but this rich, flaky pastry is equally delicious made into the Special Steak and Kidney Pudding as it is here in Sussex pond pudding, one of my favourite puddings. Make this soft pastry with all suet, or a suet-butter mixture, which I like for sweet puddings.
The classic suet crust pastry doesn’t have breadcrumbs but I use them in this recipe because they give a much lighter finished texture. You can leave them out if you like, replacing their weight with extra flour.
Sussex pond pudding derives its name from the ‘pond’ of lemony, buttery juices which seeps out when the golden, flaky crust is cut. Do not be alarmed when the pudding sinks during cooking, this is simply because the filling isn’t packed solid.
For the filling, use 175g (6oz) diced butter, 175g (6oz) demerara sugar and 1 large or 2 smaller lemons. Generously butter a 1.2litre (2pint) pudding basin, and line the base with buttered greaseproof paper cut to fit.
Sift 175g (6oz) self-raising flour, 1teaspoon baking powder, and ½teaspoon salt together into a large mixing bowl. Stir in 50g (2oz) fresh white breadcrumbs and 125g (4oz) shredded vegetable or beef suet. Make a well in the centre of the bowl and use a round-bladed knife to stir in 150ml (14pint) mixed cold water and milk, forming a soft, elastic dough.
Lightly dust with flour and form into a ball. Roll out the dough into a large circle about 5mm (¼in) thick. Cut out one-quarter of the dough in a triangle shape to use for the lid; set aside and keep covered. Shape the remaining three-quarters of dough into a cone and ease into the pudding basin, gently pressing on to the base and sides. Do not trim off the overhang.
Spoon half the butter and sugar into the lined basin. Pierce the lemon all over with a skewer and place in the centre. Cover with the remaining butter and sugar, adding extra if necessary to fill the basin but the filling will not be solid. Fold the pastry overhang back over the filling.
Reroll the remaining dough into a circle for the lid. Moisten the pastry edges and place the lid on top, pressing the edges together to seal. Top with 2 layers of greaseproof paper, the bottom sheet buttered, and pleated together across the middle to allow for expansion.
Cover with a sheet of foil much larger than the top of the basin, moulding it round the basin and allowing room for expansion, and tie the paper and foil securely round the rim with string. Draw up the 4 corners of the foil and twist and scrunch together to make a handle for lifting the basin in and out of the saucepan.
Place a metal trivet in a large saucepan and fill with enough water to come halfway up the pudding basin. Bring to the boil and add the basin. Cover the saucepan and simmer for 3—4 hours, topping up with boiling water if necessary. Uncover the pudding and invert on to a large dish with a lip to contain the buttery sauces. Serve with cream.