20 July 2020 – St Margaret’s Day

I’m making a Heg Peg Dump. I say making as it’s not finished yet, which makes me nervous. It’s a pudding containing suet. Remember me and puddings containing suet?

And I can’t say I’m entirely confident about this one either, given that when I rolled out the pastry it looked like something in a petri dish.

Anyhow, back to the beginning. It’s St Margaret’s Day, and in Gloucestershire the thing to eat on St Margaret’s Day is a Heg Peg Dump. There are various theories as to why it’s called a Heg Peg Dump – Heg could be hedgerow, but then heg pegs are another name for wild plums, and Peg is short for Margaret and another name for a small bit of dough, as is dump as in dumpling. Unlike the plum duff, this pudding actually contain plums, and apples, but it’s not so much of a dumpling (although one recipe I found had the fruit beneath a layer of individual dumplings, crumble-like), as a plum pie with a suet crust. 

It’s another of those easy recipes I was determined to make harder. GF self-raising flour, and vegetarian suet, so I didn’t have to ‘skin’ it. And the recipe called for the suet to be finely grated. Mine was already in small pellets, but convinced I could get it smaller, I put some of it in the food processor. Predictably it came out in larger lumps, which I then broke up by hand. Although smallish, the pellets were still very noticeable when I was kneading. I did not feel right. The recipe was scant in details so I freestyled a bit. Life is too short to skin suet, or plums.

I went for bonus folklore points by trying to peel the apples in one go so I could throw the peel over my shoulder to find the initial of my one true love, but I cocked it up. Twice. And I took out a lot of the sugar. Which I may regret but sweet plums and sweet apples shouldn’t need a whole cup of sugar. I added 4tsps. I had to mush down the pastry in the dish with my fingers, as it wouldn’t hold together after rolling. I even tried that fancy rolling pin manoeuvre to lift it from the board, but to no avail.

To avoid previous mistakes, I watched a video on how to wrap up the pudding in readiness for steaming. It’s been in the pot three hours now. I’ve just heard the timer go off. Wish me luck. I’m going in. 

So it’s not as bad as I thought it would be. No evidence of slime, which is always a good thing. It’s very wet inside, I’m guessing that might have something to do with the lack of sugar, as it’s certainly sweet enough, and there’s been no water breach from the steaming. The pastry itself is a little salty and really reminds me of steak pie pastry, so maybe I didn’t get it wrong (big shout out to Ma Andrews and my misspent Belmonts youth). The crust is a bit chewy, so possibly it’s not cooked enough, and the inside is soggy from the fruit so who knows. The innards are yummy though, if a teeny bit gluey, and could do with some cinnamon, or nutmeg, or both.

The verdict: not unpleasant. 

Which is certainly a step up from abject horror. Plus now I’ve got a new pie dish. And an excuse to have custard for breakfast. Although my Heg Peg Dump does slightly remind me of the pie in Thinner.

Also it was meant to rain a lot today as traditionally that’s what is supposed to happen on St Margaret’s Day. My barometers gave no indication of said Margaret’s Flood, possibly because here it was sunny and hot. 

Finally, just out of interest, does anyone else use pudding faced pie crust as a term of endearment? Or is that just something my family does? If this rings any bells, I’d be interested to know. Now, where’s my Bisodol?


Resources

Cooper, Q. and Sullivan, P. (1994) Maypoles, Martyrs & Mayhem: 366 Days of British Myths, Customs & Eccentricities, London, Bloomsbury Publishing Plc

Day, B. (1998) A Chronicle of Folk Customs, London, Hamlyn

Jones, J. and Deer, B. (1987) Cattern Cakes and Lace, London, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Leendertz, L. (2019) The Almanac, A Seasonal Guide to 2020, London, Mitchell Beazley

Roud, S. (2006) The English Year: A Month-By-Month Guide To The Nation’s Customs and Festivals, From May Day to Mischief Night, London, Penguin Books

http://www.theoldfoodie.com/2007/07/heg-peg-dump.html

https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/videos/techniques/how-steam-pudding

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2 Comments

  1. Glorious Barbara
    21 July 2020
    Reply

    I can confirm that Ma Andrews is still partial to a steak pie. No, that is not a euphemism.

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