Quite why this gem of English suet puddings is named for Sussex is not quite clear. 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 such delicacies, if the word delicacy can be used to describe something so substantial and simple. Westham and Chailey both have associations with the pudding, and I have also seen versions from Lancing and Horsham , 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 simmering gently the pudding contained in a clout or cloth, and some believe that this method continued longer in Sussex than elsewhere in the country, hence again a reason for it to be linked with that county. As there are various puddings still made by the old method this reasoning, however, seems flawed.
Sussex Pond Pudding consists of suet pastry formed in a pudding basin, with inside the pastry case a filling made of equal quantities of brown sugar and butter (4oz of each at the very least, and a more generous 6oz is more in the spirit of the thing), and a single large lemon scrubbed then pricked all over with a darning needle, knitting needle, skewer, or similar weapon. The pastry lid seals the goodness inside, and the whole is steamed at length – three hours should really be the minimum.
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’, according to the great Jane Grigson in her book English Food, refers to the brown liquid that surrounds the pudding on its plate. Older sources indicate another possibility, suggesting ‘pond’ described and was a corruption of the ‘pound’ of sauce that was produced from the pudding.
From Julia on 14th September 2012
I grew up with Sussex Pond Pudding , Where are the currants that give it that rich deep sauce and taste when you cut into it ?, not the wishy washy modern lemon version that you get today. Sussex Ponds are tradionally deep , dark and murky ! please go back to the proper recipe!!
From colin spencer on 10th September 2009
The whole lemon is a very late addition,somewhere between 1950-80, by then everyone including Jane Grigson were calling this pudding with the whole lemon authentic. It is not