Roly poly

Roly poly

At Home with Ben
Mark Roper

My earliest memories of growing up in England are my grandma’s cooking and being in trouble, both in equal measure. Grandma’s cooking was all about good, honest Norfolk fare – dumplings, apple pies, treacle tart and, best of all, roly poly! At the age of five, it’s something you swear you could eat three times a day, every day of your life! Of course, if you did you’d soon end up a roly poly yourself, such is the calorific impact of this, the crown prince of sweet, stodgy English puddings. Ideally, you need to use lard. You don’t have to use an animal lard, vegetable suet will do, and at a pinch you could use a good-quality unsalted butter.


Quantity Ingredient
375g plain flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
100g caster sugar, plus extra to sprinkle
180g lard
1 1/2 lemons, zested
150ml milk
2 tablespoons raspberry jam
1/4 punnet blackberries
1/4 punnet raspberries
cream and fresh berries, to serve


  1. Combine the flour, baking powder and caster sugar in a large bowl. Using your fingertips, rub in the lard until you get a fine crumb texture. Add the lemon zest, stir in the milk and knead the mixture into a dough. On a floured sheet of baking paper, roll out into a square about 1 cm thick. Spread the dough evenly with the jam, top with the berries and sprinkle with a little caster sugar.
  2. Carefully roll the roly poly into a log shape, making sure you have an equal distribution of fruit.
  3. Tear off a sheet of baking paper, making sure it is wide enough and long enough to wrap around the roly poly. Fold a 2.5 cm pleat in the middle of the sheet of paper, to allow for the pudding to expand.
  4. Carefully place the roly poly directly on top of the crease. Fold over the sides of paper to envelop the pudding and tie each end firmly with butchers twine. Secure the middle with a slightly looser piece of twine.
  5. Place a wire rack in a baking tin and pour in enough hot water to fill to just below the rack. Place the roly poly on the rack and cover the tin with foil.
  6. Place the tin in the oven and steam for 30 minutes. To check if the pudding is cooked, insert a skewer – if the skewer comes out clean, the roly poly is ready. Allow to rest for 10 minutes.
  7. Carefully unwrap the roly poly and sprinkle liberally with caster sugar. Cut into slices and serve with cream and fresh berries.
At Home with Ben
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