There is an extensive pastry section in the reciepe book, so I did want some kind of pastry dish represened in the meal. Suet crust pasty is unusual in that it is boiled or steamed rather than baked, with steamed savoury puddings of this sort not being seen very often now. It also seemed a little more approachable than puff pastry or choux pastry!
For the suet crust:
8 oz flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3-4 oz. suet
cold water to mix
Sieve together flour, baking powder and salt. Mix with cold water to a soft, not sticky, dough. I did get my mixture a little sticky at one point, but just brought it back by adding a touch more flour. The pastry was easy to work with and to roll out. I rolled mine straight onto greaseproof paper to make the next stages easier.
For the filling:
1 lb. beefsteak
1 onion or leek
Mince the meat, onion or leek and the carrort, season and moisten with a little stock (I acutally used gravy). Spread the mixture on the pastry, moisten the edges with a little cold water and roll up. I was aiming for a swiss roll type of thing, using the greaseproof paper to coax it into place. I didn't end up with a perfect spiral, but it got the job done.
The greaseproof paper stops the pastry sticking to the pudding cloth. I tied it all up with a muslin square (the type mums will be familiar with from mopping up baby sick), but a thin tea towel would do as well. It shouldn't be too tight, as the roll will expand during cooking.
By this time, despite my careful measuring, I'd created a monster too big for my steamer. After some improvisation with a giant jam pan I got it going and, 3 hours later (checking as I went along that the pan hadn't boiled dry), we were ready to serve with a little gravy on the side.
The taste test
This was quite a hit. Not the most sophisticated dish, but lovely rich and comforting flavours of beef stew, snuggled in a dumpling duvet. Perfect for a cold dark night.