New College Pudding, Oxfordshire
Naturally enough New College is actually one of Oxford 's oldest, with a hugely calorific old-fashioned pudding to its famous name. This is surely Britain's answer to Elvis's beloved peanut butter and jelly sandwich fried in butter. It is a dish for students living in cold accommodation, or for athletes who have burned off fat rowing or running. Alternatively it is for those who want to soak up large amounts of alcohol that night, or to kill a hangover from earlier imbibing.
New College Pudding is up to the point of cooking very similar to a steamed pudding. Equal weights of self-raising flour (or better still breadcrumbs, or even biscuit crumbs), finely shredded suet, and currants are mixed with a generous amount of nutmeg, sugar enough to sweeten the dough (about half of the weight of suet), a pinch of salt, and a little candied peel. Beaten egg is added to the mix, enough to bind it and help it expand in cooking, then milk to loosen the dough but not too much. Alternatively sherry can be used in place of the milk, or reputedly even brandy.
This dough must be well mixed, then if time allows it should be left for 15 to 20 minutes covered with a tea towel. Now, just in case the suet has not provided the calories, the next bit should: put plenty of unsalted butter in a pan, and heat it well. Some recipes use a pound of butter to let the puddings be deep fried; others are more frugal and cite less, to shallow fry.
Put dollops of the mixture in the hot butter and fry for about three minutes or so, until the outsides are nicely browned, turning them if shallow frying (and if using this method flatten the puds a bit to make turning and cooking easier). But be very careful to avoid burning. Even undergraduates must have standards.
When the puddings are cooked through, give them a good shake of sugar. A further instruction might be something along the lines of 'ensure a cardiac surgeon is to hand', but in the hallowed halls of Oxford one probably is already.
This is - obviously - a very traditional pudding and a real tempter for late night or last minute cooking if a proper pud is required but there is no time for prolonged steaming. As the bottles say these days - enjoy in moderation.
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