I’m sure many would be surprised to learn that, despite my svelte athletic frame and whippet-like trim, where it comes to pudding, I favour traditional British varieties. Not for me the charms of an ethereally light, whipped to within an inch of it’s life, uppity frou-frou fancy, as favoured by our continental cousins and finer dining establishments. No. I want a bowl containing a ‘lump’ of pudding, definitely not a slice. Preferably consisting mainly of suet. It will be a squat, heavy almost leaden mass. It will be steaming hot. The only acceptable accompaniment will be cream or custard. This is the type of dessert that powered a globe straddling empire. Accept no substitute.
Is it any wonder then, when invited to dinner at the rather swanky Hix Mayfair (ensconced in Brown’s Hotel), for a meal that was planned, incidentally to celebrate duck (more about that later) I only had eyes for the dessert - the intriguingly named Sussex Pond Pudding. This was to be the first time I’d ever tried it. Of course I’ve heard mention of it, studied pictures and recipes but it always seemed a bit of an oddity. In case you don’t know, it’s suet based (praise be) but in the centre there sits a whole lemon. It’s always kind of put me off making it, as I just couldn’t imagine what it’d taste like or if it would be any good.
Well ladies and gentlemen, wiser and significantly plumper, I’m here to tell you it’s absolutely frigging top drawer. Hello sticky, sweet suet sitting in a puddle of buttery, caramel, lemon juices, get down my hatch pronto. One of the best British puddings I’ve ever tasted, possibly even better than spotted dick and that, is almost taking the piss.
I ate four massive portions. The rest of the assembled guests (including Mark Hix himself) looked on with what I can only describe as a mixture of awe, admiration, disgust and perhaps pity as I refused to submit and ate as much as I possibly could. Seriously, it was ridiculously good.
A week later, the memory of this exemplary pudding scored deep into my brain, I decided to have a go at making it myself.
1 large unwaxed lemon