Roly Poly Pudding. . . Vegetarian

Old-fashioned Roly Poly Pudding is as British as you can get, as far as desserts go.  Biscuit dough filled with jam or fruit, rolled and baked and served with custard or cream is pure comfort in a bowl. 

Roly poly pudding, and blackberry pie.
Peter likes the pudding, and Polly likes the pie!
Which one do you like?
Oh my, oh my, oh my...
Roly poly pudding and blackberry pie.
~Author Unknown~

As the summer comes to a close and the chill of autumn tinges the nights (and some days) my mind and stomach start to wander to more substantial fare to warm and sustain my body and soul.  I really don't want to see the end of summer.  While others revel in the joys of cool autumn days I mourn the loss of  the long, warm days of summer.  We really don't get unbearably hot days in summer but we DO get unbearably cold autumn and winter days.  I could cry when I see the leaves turning from lovely summer green to the reds and yellows of fall. . . sigh. . . 

I must get on to the recipe before I'm wallowing in dire self-pity.

Roly Poly Pudding is new to me.  I've had the recipe for several
years in the old Green Label Cook Book that mom used to own.  Green Label margarine was a staple in Newfoundland homes during the 1940s and early 1950s.  Even after the Newfoundland Margarine Company stopped production and went on to new brands my father often refered to margarine as Green Label as one would refer to tissues as "Kleenx".  Dad worked with the Newfoundland Margarine Company so Green Label would have been front and centre on his table.   By the time I arrived on the scene, the Green Label brand had been replace by "Good Luck Margarine" but the little cook book was still around.  Alas, the book is now missing pages 29-40 which means I don't have all the cake and cookie recipes.  But the Roly Poly Pudding recipe is still intact.  

The little cook book was published sometime in the 1940s or very early 1950s.  There is no copyright or publishing information in the book so I'm making a good guess by the drawings.  The recipes are quite economical and often do not contain eggs or milk --probably influenced by the rationing of World War II and post-war years.  The amount of sugar in many recipes is quite scanty which would also reflect rationing of the war years. 

I tried the recipe using the biscuit dough that was in the book but the pudding turned out as heavy as a doorstop!  I suppose the meager amount of margarine used in the dough was the reason.  I carried on as the recipe had great potential for a fall or winter dessert and decided to use my own recipe for Baking Powder Biscuits.  This time the results were much better.  The dough is tender and easy to chew!   The pudding is not overly sweet as the biscuit dough is not sweet (even with the tablespoon of sugar!)  The sweetness comes from the filling and the custard with which it is served.

Traditional Roly Poly Pudding dough is made with suet (which is fat from beef or  mutton) but it can be made with butter, shortening or margarine for  anyone not wanting to use suet. Vegetable suet can be used but  that's not easily available North America.


Roly Poly Pudding
2 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
½ cup butter
1 cup milk
2 - 2½ cups fresh berries or peeled chopped fruit*
1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon grated lemon rind, optional
½ - 1 cup sugar, to taste (brown sugar can be used with apples)
Icing sugar (powdered) for decorating top of pudding, optional 

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. If using a glass dish reduce the oven temperature to 400 degrees. Lightly grease or pan spray a 8x10-inch baking pan. You can also use a 9x13-inch dish if you don't have the smaller dish.  Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit in the pan and hang over the sides a few inches.  Lightly grease the paper.

Sift or mix together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar together.  Cut in butter to about the size of peas.  Mix in milk to make a soft dough. The dough should not be sticky.  Gather dough together and gently knead a few seconds on a floured surface, just enough to bring the dough together.  Roll dough into a rectangle shape about ⅓-inch thick.

Mix the berries or fruit, lemon juice, rind if using and sugar together.  Spread over dough leaving a 1½-inch border clear on each edge.  Brush edges with a little water.  Starting on short edge, roll as you would for a jelly roll or cinnamon buns.  Press edges together including the ends. 

Lift pudding unto the piece of parchment paper and lift into the prepared loaf pan, fitting as neatly as you can. 

Bake in preheated oven for 45-50 minutes.  If pudding seems to be browning too fast, turn oven down 25 degrees and continue baking.

When baked remove from oven and let sit for 15 minutes.  You may serve the pudding from the pan or remove by using the edges of the parchment paper as handles.  If removing the pudding from the baking pan you can place it on a nice serving plate and scrape any juice off the parchment paper and spoon it around the pudding.  Cut into slices and serve hot or warm with vanilla custard or pouring cream.

Makes 6-8 servings 

*Any number of berries or fruits can be used, such as blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, chopped apple, peaches, etc... If using frozen fruits, let them thaw and drain before using.  About a cup of jam may also be used instead of the fruit.  Jam Roly Poly is the original pudding. 

Note: This pudding can be veganized very easily by using vegan margarine and some kind of nut/plant milk in place of the dairy. 

Make the pudding dough by mixing the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar together.  Cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Mix in the milk to make a soft dough.  Turn out on floured surface and gently knead a few times until the dough comes together.  Roll out into a rectangle about ⅓-inch thick.  Spread the fruit over the dough leaving a 1½ inch border.  Brush the edges with water.  This will help the dough stick to itself when rolling.

Prepare the berries or fruit by cleaning or chopping.  To the fruit add the sugar, lemon juice and grated rind if using.  Mix together and spread evenly over the dough.

This is what the apples look like for the Apple Roly Poly.

When the fruit has been spread over the dough, starting at the short end roll as you would if making a jelly roll or cinnamon buns.  

As you roll the dough pinch the ends together so the fruit won't escape during baking.  Pinch the finished roll together along the long seam on the bottom.

Lay the finished roll on the prepared parchment paper and lift into the baking dish.  I rolled my dough on the parchment paper which made it easy to transport.
Bake in preheated 425 degree oven (400 degrees if using a glass dish) for 45-50 minutes until golden brown.  The loaf should sound hollow if tapped.  Let stand at least 15 minutes before cutting or transferring to serving plate. I found it fairly easy to lift the hot pudding from the dish, using the parchment paper for support, and slide it onto a serving platter.  Any juice that escaped was spooned next to the pudding.
When I had the pudding on the serving plate I thought it looked a little naked so I gave it a sprinkle of powdered sugar.  Now it looks dressed up and ready to be eaten.

Serve the pudding with custard.  You can use this very easy recipe found here.  Add an extra half cup of milk if you want a pouring custard.

Roly Poly Pudding-- Good eating for a Fall or Winter dessert.


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