Sussex Pond Pudding - Old Fashioned Steamed Lemon Pudding

Total Time
3hrs 25mins
Prep 25 mins
Cook 3 hrs

A fabulous and very old British recipe - whole fresh lemons are encased in a light suet pastry case which is then steamed to make the most delicious self-saucing dessert. This is a classic British pudding which is easy to make and a tasty and tangy way to end a rich meal, such a Sunday lunch. What's in a name? Made of a suet pastry which encases the whole lemons, with butter and sugar, after lengthy steaming they all melt together to make the pond, hence the name! Historical note about Sussex Pond Pudding: Suet was particularly popular as an ingredient in the southern half of England, and there are suggestions that the women of Sussex were especially adept at making use of it. Westham, Chailey, Lancing and Horsham all have associations with the pudding, but doubtless a number of other towns and villages in the county will claim it as their own. In days gone by the pudding was more often made by gently simmering the pudding in a clout or cloth, and some believe that this method continued longer in Sussex than elsewhere in the country. Sussex Pond Pudding consists of suet pastry formed in a pudding basin. Inside the pastry case a filling made of equal quantities of brown sugar and butter and 1 or 2 whole lemons scrubbed, and then pricked all over. The pastry lid seals the goodness inside, and the whole pudding is steamed at length. The lengthy steaming is required to work the magic inside the pastry: the juices of the lemon, mix with the melted butter and the brown sugar, creating a rich but sharp sauce that should gush from the pudding when it is cut into at table. ‘Pond’, appears to refer to the brown liquid that surrounds the pudding on its plate. Older sources indicate another possibility, that ‘pond’ was a corruption of the ‘pound’ of sauce that was produced from the pudding. (Recipe from Delicious magazine and historical notes from The Pudding Club.)

Ingredients Nutrition

Directions

  1. 1. Prick the lemons all over with a skewer. Cut the butter into fine dice and chill.
  2. 2. Combine the flour and suet (or grated butter) in a bowl and add the milk. Knead to form a dough. Divide it into 2 rough balls, comprising of a third and two-thirds of the mix respectively. Flour a worktop and roll out the larger ball. Use it to line the base and sides of a buttered, 1.5-litre pudding basin.
  3. 3. Fill the pudding with half the cold butter cubes and half the sugar. Pop the whole lemons on top, then top with the rest of the sugar and butter. Roll out the smaller ball of dough to make a lid for the pudding (this will become the base so make it nice and thick). Brush the edges of the lid with water, put on top of the pudding and press to seal.
  4. 4. Cover with a circle of baking paper and tie under the rim of the basin with kitchen string to secure. Before cutting the string, take it up over the top to create a loose handle, then tie securely. Trim off any excess baking paper. Place the basin in a large pan and pour hot water into the pan until it reaches two-thirds of the way up its sides of the basin. Cover and simmer for 3 to 3½ hours. Keep an eye on the water level, and top up as necessary. Allow the pudding to rest for 10 minutes before carefully turning out onto a serving dish. When serving, ensure everyone gets a little of the lemon. Serve with cream or ice cream.