NOSTALGIC puddings often find their way into my columns this time of year!

There’s something about comfort food that nestles snuggly in my memory and a spoonful can transport me back to a time, a place and the people.

A warming winter pudding can be a real treat: there are many ‘winter’ recipes that we can cook and bake-up to share with friends and family.

But for me, in the depths of winter it’s worth casting an eye backwards to recipes from yesteryear, and what better than a suet jam roly-poly pudding filled with raspberry jam?

Roly-poly has fond childhood memories for a person of a certain age, being a real treat cut up into thick slices to expose a spiral of jam smoothed in piping hot pink custard.

For the lucky ones who enjoyed the last of the golden age, gulps of school dinners where the dinner ladies prepared us a home-cooked, two-course dinner every day of the week for just 25 pence.

I’m sure they shared our earliest love of food before the health police and Jamie Oliver moved in and they suddenly vanished from the menu.

Jam roly-poly was always a weekly treat for us kids throughout long winter months, which also set us up for cross country after dinner in the freezing cold.

Jam roly-poly can never be called ‘light’, but if made well I’m sure it would soon be back on the menu today without a stodgy joke or a big metal jug of luke-warm custard with half an inch of skin on top.

The technique for making suet puddings does seem off-putting and unfamiliar today, involving cotton cloths, kitchen string, large steamers filled with kettles full of boiling water, and the key ingredient suet, which is hardly a regular on our shopping lists today.

Your grandparents would have called this ‘Shirt-Sleeve pudding’ after the article of old clothing in which the steamed version was cooked in, having a nickname of ‘Dead Man’s Leg.

This British classic pudding will neither be dull or bad for us, and what we have here is great tradition for innovatory cuisine which is admired by the rest of the world.

My family adored this new baked addition to the household pudding repertoire, when I made it recently, and I’ve never seen anything disappear so fast leaving no time for the custard to skin over or the need to cut up my pyjama bottoms.

Sadly I’m still having to work on the family with the liver and onions and tapioca pudding!

Jam Roly-Poly - oven-baked version

Serves four generous portions


225g/8oz self-raising flour, sifted

Pinch salt

50g/2oz caster sugar

110g/4oz Atora vegetable suet

Lemon juice from a small lemon, optional

10 tablespoons cold water or enough to form a soft dough

200g/7oz seeded raspberry jam, flashed in the microwave oven until runny

3 tablespoons caster sugar to sprinkle on top


1. Preheat the oven to 200c/Gas Mark 6 then line a large baking tray with baking parchment paper.

2. In a large mixing bowl, add the flour, salt, sugar and suet, and combine all well.

3. Add the cold water to the bowl to create a soft dough, but not too sticky.

4. Lightly knead the dough using a little flour until it comes together.

5. Roll out the dough to a large rectangle and light egg-wash the borders.

6. Spoon on the runny jam leaving a slight border again around the rectangle.

7. Loosely fold over the dough to make a Swiss roll shape, then fold the ends under to prevent any jam from leaking out.

8. Place your Swiss roll onto the baking tray and lightly brush over a little beaten egg or milk.

9. Sprinkle over the caster sugar for a golden crusty bake.

10. Bake for around 35/40 minutes in the middle of the oven till golden brown in colour.

11. Leave to stand for 10 minutes before slicing up with loads of piping hot lumpy custard.