Goodbye to January; cold snaps, soup diets, disappointing sales and fastidious resolutions. February, is heart-shaped. Whether you’re a marmalade lover, or a lover of a marmalade lover, you’ll be pleased to know that The World’s Original Marmalade Festival takes place this Valentine’s Day. Fruity, or what?
Set in a beautiful Georgian estate in the middle of the Lake District, the festival, described as the ‘Grand Prix of Marmalade’ captures a unique British eccentricity, attracting entries from round the world. Pots of glistening gold, yellow and amber jellies are lined up for the judging proper before the big day; a panel of experienced WI judges have just two days to decide on category winners.
I’ll be reporting back later this month as food historian and festival patron Ivan Day tells me more about the history of marmalade and its use in puddings, cakes and desserts. In the meantime, here’s a traditional marmalade pudding recipe taken from the Constance Spry Cookery Book (1956).
Serves: 4-6 (note: can be eaten by one marmalade fan in a single sitting)
- 3oz suet
- 3oz fresh breadcrumbs
- 3oz caster sugar
- 1.5 tbsp marmalade (preferably home-made)
- 1 teaspoon orange-flower water
- 1 large or 2 small eggs
- Mix suet, crumble and sugar together
- Stir in marmalade, orange flower water and beaten egg
- Put in a buttered mould and steam for three hours
The no-nonsense method makes preparation a breeze though you’ll need to keep a sharp eye on the simmering suet. I placed a circle of grease-proof paper over the pudding then wrapped it in a clean tea-towel before lowering into a sturdy pan. Water levels need only reach 1/3 of pan which must then be topped up at sporadic intervals, dependent on speed of evaporation.
For the marmalade sauce, gently warm two tablespoons of marmalade, pour over and serve.
This has to be the ultimate comfort pudding for a chilly February evening; tangy, moist, and indescribably more-ish.