Jam Roly Poly
War’s end, treaties are signed, and the people are left to rebuild and recover. The aftermath of The Second World War saw social changes sweep through the country: Within Three years of VE day, the NHS came into existence and the early welfare state had begun to improve living standards. My gran was too young to remember all of this in much detail but had vivid memories of one day being dragged by her mother to a building where she had to wait for three hours (children’s time) just for the privilege of having a stranger poke her teeth with odd metal hooks. As time went on and the country recovered, my gran grew older and became the first woman in the family to go to college where she learned the art of the seamstress. She had been at college for a year when she and her friends decided they would indulge themselves a little in this new world where disposable income was now a thing. In a fit of wanderlust befitting naive farm girls from Coventry, they booked themselves a three-day coaching holiday to Brighton. Nanny Little was cautious, she was a child of the lost generation and to her, the world was a dangerous place in so many ways. She sat my Gran down and imparted to her the knowledge of men and their ways, wants and desires. Undeterred, but with a slightly sick feeling my Gran still chose to go, and packed her bag for her first holiday. This holiday was the spark that ignited a love for travel that saw my Nan travel all around the world. On the night before she was to leave, a lightly grieving Nanny Little treated the family to an old family favourite: the last dessert my Nan would enjoy before going on the trip that would change her life, Jam Roly-Poly.
This recipe may be doubled or halved depending on your need, but always keep the ratio of ingredients the same.
430g plain flour (sifted) 1/2 tsp sea salt 120g shredded suet 90g unsalted butter, melted 100ml water (the amount of water needed to bind the dough will vary) 170g strawberry or raspberry jam (warmed) a little water (for brushing) Vanilla custard to serve (carton is fine, but here is my recipe for a great custard)
1. Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl. Add the salt, shredded suet, melted butter and sufficient water to create a soft, but not sticky, dough.
Using a wooden spoon, mix well to bring everything together and then finish off with your fingers until the dough is smooth and moist, add more flour or water if needed. Place, covered, in the fridge for twenty minutes.
2. Turn the dough out onto a floured work area and gently knead for a minute.
Once you are happy with the consistency re-flour the work area and roll out a rectangle about 30cm x 48cm at about 5mm thick
Warm a little jam in a saucepan or microwave. Brush the middle of the pastry with the jam in a thick layer, but leaving a narrow border around the edges. Brush this border with a little milk to help seal the pastry.
3 . With one of the short sides nearest you, roll the pastry into a loose log shape and seal the ends well by pinching them and then folding them under.
Wrapping the Roly-Poly: This is to help keep its round shape and keep most of the water out of the steaming /boiling process. The jam roly poly will be placed on two layers, a rectangle of baking parchment and a similar one of foil, both of which are a little longer than the roly-poly. To allow room for a little expansion add a ‘pleat’ into them. A pleat is made by folding the paper and foil layers over on itself, then after several centimetres re-fold it back to its full length, leaving the folded pleat in place.
Boiling / Steaming: Sit the roly-poly package on a rack or heatproof plate (so that it is a few centimetres or so off the bottom) inside a steam bath, fish kettle or a large roasting tin, and fill it with boiling hot water, making sure that the water only just covers the roly-poly package. As it gently boils/steams the water will expand. Put the lid on the steam bath or cover the roasting tin with a foil cover and steam/boil – leaving it to simmer on a cooker ring on a low-medium heat for 2 hours (make sure it never runs dry of water). After 2 hours remove the pudding from the cloth and paper, cut into slices and serve hot with custard