Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Reading and Recipes: Young Bess and Sausage Sussex Blanket Pudding

Sausage Sussex Blanket Pudding is basically a Jam Roly-Poly  (I need to make one of those!) but with sausage instead of jam. I created this recipe from a suggestion in Florence White's Good Things in England. Originally published in 1932, the subtitle says it all: "Containing Traditional and Regional Recipes suited to Modern Tastes contributed by English Men and Women between 1399 and 1932..."

Sausage again? Yes, I'll probably be making quite a few things with sausage over the next few weeks. My mother-in-law sent us home with 2 1/2 lbs of it after Christmas and I needed it for yesterday's Saturday Night Apples, so I had to defrost all of it! Good thing I'm a fan.

This recipe is designed for two, but feel free to increase the measurements as desired--you'll just have to roll out a larger rectangle!

Sausage Sussex Blanket Pudding

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
pinch of salt
3 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small cubes
1/4 lb sausage

Stir together the flour and salt in a mixing bowl, then work in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Add just enough cold water to bring the mixture together. Roll out on a floured surface. Pastry should be approximately a 10" by 6" rectangle.

Spread sausage over the pastry, leaving a 1" margin on all sides. Dampen one of the short sides with a bit of water (so as to seal the roll). Starting at the opposite short side, roll up pastry. Seal the seam and fold and seal the ends. Refrigerate until steamer is ready.

Loosely wrap pudding in parchment paper and steam for 1 1/2 hours in a steamer basket over boiling water. Be sure to not let steamer boil dry. Top off with boiling water, as needed.

When pudding is ready, unwrap and slice into medallions.

Serves 2


You'll find the Brussels sprouts recipe here.

For the "reading" portion of this post, I've selected Young Bess by Margaret Irwin, yet another book I've been lucky to find at the recycling center. (My mom made the bookmark, by the way.) Full disclosure: I was the teaching assistant for a Tudor England course. That makes me picky about historical novels set during the reign of the Tudors. I didn't expect much, but I actually liked this one. Now, it has been 4 1/2 years since I've been in daily contact with the Tudor monarchs, but Young Bess seemed fairly accurate to me, as far as fictionalizations go. Margaret Irwin is wonderfully irreverent and the characters come across as real people and the dialog is often quite funny. Take this "exchange" between the Duke and Duchess of Somerset (the Duchess does all the talking.)

     "--when I'm talking of my son--our son--whom you want to disposses? Don't you love me better than you did your first wife? You must, or you wouldn't have divorced her for me."
     He supposed he had. He really couldn't think now how it had happened.
     "Well, then," continued the inexorable voice, "while you're fiddling with the law to please your own whims, you can do this one little thing for me."
     He could not do it.
     But he knew that he would. (136)

Young Bess is about the rather irregular relationship between a teenaged Princess Elizabeth and Thomas Seymour, her step-uncle/stepfather. After the death of Henry VIII, Elizabeth went to live in the household of Katherine Parr, who married Thomas Seymour a few months later. There were rumors at the time that the interaction between Thomas and Elizabeth was not strictly, ahem, familial. Check it out for yourself. Thankfully, the book is still in print. It's a great read.

By the way, there is a movie version starring Jean Simmons (Elizabeth), Stewart Granger (Thomas Seymour) and Deborah Kerr (Katharine Parr). Charles Laughton is Henry VIII (again) in the first part of the film. It's OK, but I definitely preferred the book.


  1. Yum! I like the look of this meal. And I will add Young Bess to my reading list. I have read some schlocky British historical fiction and appreciate books recs--especially from a historian!

    1. Some historical fiction can be just awful! I know they all have to take liberties but...

      I'll have to admit, though, to being a not-quite-historian. I've only got a B.A. I'm a graduate-school drop-out. I do still enjoy history, though.

  2. Love your mom's bookmark, Lauren. :)

    The 'roly-poly' looks good, but the brussel sprouts look extra yummy. (I'm not a big meat eater, but I'm always on the look-out for veggies.)

    Haven't read YOUNG BESS, but it sounds like something I might like. Adding it to my TBR list. :)

  3. What a good find of a book; I loved it when I see good books in those second hand book stores:)
    I loved that bookmark your mum made; I used to make a lot of bookmarks myself too!;) Yeah, I am a big fan of books and bookmarks :D

  4. Your meal looks wonderful - funny that brussel sprouts can actually be pretty as well as tasty! The bookmark still looks great after lots of use!

  5. Sausage is happiness. ( :
    Delectable recipe as usual and I like it that you matched it with a book this time.

  6. What a splendid meal! And your mom's bookmark is beautiful.

  7. WE share the same cookbook library! I also have that book.....and that Sausage Sussex Blanket Pudding looks amazing too! I LOVE Young Bess and what a lovely book...


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