“Dead Man’s Leg”

I had a lovely chat this morning with Steven White (ABC Illawarra) – we talked about my new book (The Comfort Bake), which is about to be released.

There was an extra interesting turn to the conversation.  You see Steven told me yesterday that he had asked listeners which pudding they thought would be good to serve to the Queen for her Diamond Jubilee.

A few people suggested “Dead Man’s Leg” – how intriguing!!  Did I know of it, he asked?  No, I didn’t but as we were out at the time, I decided to research in between stops in the car.

I found out that it is just a jam roly poly, a recipe with origins back to the nineteenth century.  It has a suet crust pastry, that is rolled to a rectangle, spread with raspberry or blackcurrant jam, and then rolled and boiled.

Of course, the pudding needs to be contained as it cooks, so this led to another of its other names – “Dead Man’s Arm”, where the pudding was cooked and tied in a shirt sleeve in its earlier history.

I would really like to have done that, seemed kind of quirky, but we couldn’t agree here about whose shirt should be sacrificed for the purpose, so I settled for an old pudding cloth.  Note the safety pins that keep the pudding contained within the confines of the cloth – that was the recommendation of one of the older recipes I found.

These days the pudding is more likely to be baked than boiled, so early this morning I decided to trial both.

With just a little imagination the boiled version, with its pasty exterior, looks more the part to fit the description of “Dead Man’s Leg”.

The puddings (especially the boiled one that is on the left) looks rather too rustic to serve to the Queen (even served with a traditional dollopy egg custard), but other cooks would make it look far more visually appealing without a doubt.

It was fun trialing that boiled pudding, but when I make it again, it will definitely be the baked version, both for ease of effort and timing (2 hours compared to a mere 30 minutes}.

The history behind food and certain dishes is endlessly fascinating!!

All that remains here is to work out what to do with two rather large (and filling) jam roly polies….. way too much for us to eat. (Chickens will be happy though.)

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