Article date: 11 Nov 2010
The arrival of jam roly poly on the new menu is, for many, like the return of an old friend.
An essential part of most people’s childhood, jam roly poly is a classic comfort food – one which, no matter how grey or cold the winter, is sure to conjure up a wealth of fond memories and belly-warming feelings.
I suspect that, like most people, my first introduction to jam roly poly was at school. I also suspect that, like me, most found this pudding a real gem, whose taste would stay in the memory long after they left school.
In days of celebrity cookbooks crammed full of recipes with ingredient lists longer than my average school essay, it’s reassuring that the simple combination of jam, pastry and custard can provide such a fabulous dessert. Surprising then, also, that so many of us leave the ‘poly’s’ delights at the school gates, when we venture into the big wide world of adulthood.
That said, as those Toy Story aficionados will appreciate, however much you grow up, true friendship will stand the test of time!
The enduring appeal of this dessert is believed to date from 19th-century Britain, a time when suet puddings were the order of the day for providing cheap (yet filling) nutritious foods.Thankfully, while steak & kidney pud is also a firm favourite of mine, I am so glad that some bright spark had the foresight to realise that the versatility of plain suet pastry wasn’t just for savouries, choosing also to smother it in sweet jam and roll it up.
Originally, such puddings would have been rolled and then steamed, often in a shirt sleeve, leading to the far-from-flattering nickname of ‘shirt-sleeve pudding’ and, even worse, ‘dead man’s arm’.
Thankfully, it became commonplace to bake the puddings in the oven, rather than steam them. It was the satisfying taste of the dessert which endured, with the name ‘jam roly poly’ synonymous with empty plates and a full belly.
The new jam roly poly retains the appeal of the traditional pudding, with a few modern twists, designed to make it a touch more indulgent – such as more jam than traditionally required and the use of butter and sugar to add sweetness to what was typically a more savoury-style pastry.
For me, a memorable jam pud must have a delicious suet base and ooze with a fruit-packed jam – which this most certainly does. The fruit used is raspberries.
Each pudding which you enjoy is individually hand-rolled and oven-baked, giving the perfect outer crispness, just waiting to be smothered in piping-hot custard.
Jog any memories? Go on, introduce yourself to an old friend.