Olivia Potts

Sussex pond pudding: the perfect January pick-me-up

[Illustration: Natasha Lawson]

I always feel pulled toward citrus at the start of the year. Initially it was subconscious: I’d just find myself in the kitchen making a lemon drizzle cake. But now I actively plan my citrusy January. As Christmas recedes, I make notes of recipes that I’m craving, and almost all of them call for a whack of lemon or grapefruit or orange.

It doesn’t take much analysis, does it? It’s a bit like having a dream about doing an exam unprepared – what could it possibly mean?! The literal brightness of the fruit and the figurative brightness of the flavour – its zinginess – bring you back to life; it is the perfect ingredient for fresh starts, for leaves turned over.

This is so much more than a lemony sauced pud. It is a masterclass in balancing flavours and textures

Citrus has the added benefit of providing some contrast to the kind of puddings that you need at this time of year: soft, warm, comforting – the sort of thing unfairly labelled ‘stodge’. Even if it’s bound up with butter and sugar and served warm with a generous glug of cold cream, there’s something energising about the citrus.

Sussex pond pudding is a sweet, steamed pudding that contains a whole lemon at its centre. The whole fruit means that this is so much more than a lemony sauced pud. It is a masterclass in balancing flavours and textures: the sweet sauce is spiked by the citrus sharpness, offset by the unsweetened canvas of the suet pastry, crisp on the outside but soft on the inside.

The dish, unsurprisingly, comes from Sussex, and the pond refers to the sweet buttery sauce that pools around the pastry as soon as the pudding is cut. The lemon, bathed in butter and sugar as the pudding steams, cooks slowly until it can be eaten, zest, pith and all, as part of the pudding.

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Olivia Potts
Written by
Olivia Potts
Olivia Potts is a former criminal barrister who retrained as a pastry chef. She co-hosts The Spectator’s Table Talk podcast and writes Spectator Life's The Vintage Chef column. A chef and food writer, she was winner of the Fortnum and Mason's debut food book award in 2020 for her memoir A Half Baked Idea.

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