Exeter Pudding, Devon

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Quite why this particular pudding attaches to the ancient city of Exeter is far from clear. The region has a history of solid puddings, going back to a liking for frumenty (cracked wheat made into a porridge, with spices, wine, and dried fruit, paired with meat in medieval times) which developed into breadcrumb-based puds that some claim to be the forerunner of Christmas pudding (a title disputed by several rivals including Cumberland Hackin ).
Exeter pudding is a more Victorian concoction ( Mrs Beeton certainly featured it, and my Edwardian Cassells has a recipe for it too), though the breadcrumb base may be a link to earlier generations of dessert, and it is tempting if rather clichéd to see the rum as a throwback to Devonian smugglers.
The pudding is made in alternate layers of ratafia biscuits, followed by a mix of rum, eggs, sugar, breadcrumbs, sago (the way to start a pudding race as we all remember) and suet, with a little lemon zest to flavour it, then sponge cake spread with jam, and then repeating the process but ensuring the last layer is the rather hefty sounding breadcrumb mix. More genteel versions use butter and double cream rather than suet and sago, but my preference would be for the trencherman recipe.
Baked in a buttered pudding mould for an hour or so at say 190 centigrade the pudding should emerge from the mould well set and steaming hot.
Traditionally served with a sauce made by warming blackcurrant jelly with a very good glug of sherry (say a glass of sherry to three or four tablespoons of jelly), this is unlikely to figure in government eating guidelines other than as a warning, but for those engaged in heavy manual work or labouring in the gales that can cut across Dartmoor like a knife it would provide the necessary calories to keep them going.

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