Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Traditional British Food: Heg Peg Dump

Heg Peg Dump

The heat this summer has made meal planning difficult. If anything even remotely sounds good, I don't want to have to turn on the stove or the oven to make it! So, I've gone out of my way to find recipes I haven't tried before and really really want to experience to force myself into the kitchen!

I recently purchased an out-of-print cookbook, Cattern Cakes and Lace: A Calendar of Feasts by Julia Jones and Barbara Deer. The book is organized by festivals which marked the traditional British ritual year. I turned to the July section and lo and behold, a recipe for Heg Peg Dump in honor of St. Margaret's Day, which was last Wednesday (July 20th). St. Margaret became the patron saint of childbirth (despite her virgin status) due to the story that she escaped unscathed from the belly of a dragon which was Satan in disguise. Hey, at least it's original.

Saint Margaret, Dressed as a Shepherdess by Francisco de Zurbar├ín
from Wikipedia

According to Cattern Cakes and Lace, celebrating St. Margaret's Day was most popular in Gloucestershire, where the people created a Heg Peg Dump: "Heg for hedgerow, Peg for Margaret, and Dump for dumpling!" (p. 87) I supposed my version should (in the interests of veracity) be called "Green Acres Market Peg Dump," but it lacks that certain something.
Beyond the dough, the plums and an apple, the only other ingredients for Heg Peg Dump are sugar and fresh breadcrumbs.

Heg Peg Dump

2 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons salt
¼ lb unsalted butter, frozen
approximately ½ cup cold water

1 lb plums, stoned and sliced
½ lb Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, quartered and sliced
¾ cup sugar
2 teaspoons fresh white breadcrumbs (not the kind from the store, they’ll be too dry)

You’ll want to go ahead and fill your steamer and put it over high heat so it can come to a boil.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and salt. Grate the butter over the flour mixture and rub it in with your fingers until the mixture resembles sand. Add in enough water so that the dough starts to come together. You may not need the entire ½ cup, but you might also need more, depending on your weather.

Roll out 2/3 of the pastry to 1/8” thick on a floured board and line the pudding basin with it. Place a layer of apple slices at the bottom, topped with a layer of plums, ¼ cup sugar and a teaspoon of breadcrumbs. Repeat. I only had room for 2/3 of fruit, so I reserved the rest (along with the extra ¼ cup sugar and extra pastry) for a tart. (See below.)

Fold the overhanging pastry over the top of the filling and pinch to seal. You can use a bit of the leftover pastry to help cover the filling completely, if you need to. Cover the basin with crimped aluminum foil and parchment paper and tie with kitchen twine (see video at Steam 2 ½ hours, topping water off with boiling water, as needed, throughout the process. Keep an eye on the steamer and don’t let it boil dry.

Serves 8

Adapted from “Heg Peg Dump” in Julia Jones and Barbara Deer, Cattern Cakes and Lace: A Calendar of Feasts (London: Dorling Kindersley, 1987), 87.

For the tart:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Take the remaining 1/3 of the pastry and roll out in a circle, 1/8” thick on a floured board. Leaving a ½” border, top with apple slices, then plum slices. Sprinkle with ¼ cup sugar. Using a large spatula, transfer the tart to a baking sheet and bake 35 to 40 minutes, or until all the sugar has melted and the crust is a golden brown.

Serves 4

Download and print

Paul works to make the perfect pudding-steaming set-up.
Check out this video at BBC Good Food to learn how you can, too.

When a kitchen task (such as affixing foil to the top of a pudding basin with a tricksy little piece of kitchen twine) requires precision, get a detail-oriented, perfectionist engineer to do it. Just don't expect him to get it done quickly. I know if I need Paul to help me with chopping to give him three times longer than I would need to finish the task. The man can make beautifully diced carrots.  I, on the other hand, don't give a damn. Have I mentioned that I'm not a process person? I do, however, feel a great sense of satisfaction at steaming a pudding. The only work required is topping off the steamer pot with boiling water from the kettle. I always make sure a pudding is steaming around teatime, so I can just make a cup of tea when I go to top off the steamer. Ah, efficiency.

I also had enough dough and filling to make a tart with the leftovers. The tart is ridiculously simple, looks "rustic" (like, on purpose) and tastes caramelized. It's amazing how different cooking methods create different results with the same ingredients: the texture of the pudding is like a biscuit (an American one, not a cookie) with preserves on top. If you like a tart topping to your morning toast (like orange marmalade) you'll really like the flavor of the Heg Peg Dump.

Heg Peg Tart

In case you're wondering, I use an All-Clad Multipot (with the steamer insert) and a Mason Cash 1-quart pudding basin.

I'm also submitting this post to Monthly Mingle. Be sure to check it out!

Sukaina at Sips and Spoonfuls is hosting this month's Monthly Mingle.


  1. Still can't believe that there is food in the world called this.

    I am loving your new photo style!

  2. mmmmm, again you make my mouth water, plums! Steamed pud, never have tried, looks yums... and the names are great

  3. The photos are from my new iPhone (the Hipstamatic app). I've finally entered the 21st century.

  4. When I saw Heg Peg Dump, I thought "What?!!" I loved hearing about it's history, especially as I was not familiar with Saint Margaret. Looks fabulous!

  5. Looks yummy. I'd like some with my black coffee.

    I think often the best dishes are really the simplest.

  6. It's neat to see the history behind the dish! I've never heard of it before, but it sure sounds good. Hah, I have a feeling I'm more of the efficiency type too, I don't ever make stuff very neatly, but as long as it tastes good, it makes no difference to me!
    - Emily

  7. Oh, I just adore fruity desserts...and also love the name and the story behind it!

  8. I have never even *heard* of steaming pudding like that! I love how you are like someone who just stepped out of the past. I don't think I have the right tools for the steaming method, but I might have to try that tart when I have visitors sometime.

  9. looks sooo yummy! hehe it has a funny name though :P

  10. Kelsey- You could use the recipe to just make one big tart (or 3 smaller ones). If you go the big tart route, you would probably have to lengthen the time it's in the oven. Give it a try--it's a really lovely flavor combination.

  11. What a great tart. Love the name.

  12. This looks amazing! I love the name of the dish, but the pudding itself looks so luscious. Very interesting that you get such different textures depending on whether you bake or steam the pastry.

    That books sounds wonderful . . . I hope you post more from it!

    BTW, have you ever read At Home by Bill Bryson? I'm not sure everything he writes is completely correct, but it is a very interesting read.

  13. Oh, I forgot to say . . . there is a traditional Jewish dish called apple schalet, that is kind of like this, but all apples. And I think it uses animal fat (schmaltz maybe) instead of butter.

  14. Thanks for joining my giveaway. ♥

    OMG haha the name of this dish sounds so cute, like something from Harry Potter!

    You are such a whiz in the kitchen. :)

    The Cat Hag
    Join My Giveaway

  15. Laura-
    At Home is on my to-read list, but I haven't gotten to it yet! I think it sounds interesting; I also want Amanda Vickery's radio show about domestic life.

    The original recipe for Heg Peg Dump has a suet crust, but I couldn't find any here. One of the local processors had beef fat available, but I didn't feel like rendering it in 100-degree weather!

  16. I love that portrait of St. Margaret. I've never seen it before, but her costume is amazing! Thank you for posting :-D

  17. British food names are just the this one! Thank you for sharing the story behind it and the recipe. Your photos look beautiful!

  18. I have never ever heard og Heg Peg Dump so thanks so much for enlightening me. Now tat I knwo what it is, I wouldn't mind having some. Thanks so much for mingling with me this month!!


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.