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Roly-Poly Pudding

Puddings and Sweet Deserts

(or Rolies, Rolly-Polly, Rolley-Polley Pudding)

Soft suet pastry, rolled and spread with a layer of flavouring, commonly red jam, occasionally dried fruit or marmalade, rolled up and steamed or baked. See also: Bacon Rolly-Polly.


Although this form is well-known, there are remarkably few historic receipts for it. Though there are a fair number of literary references. The earliest we can find is in I. Hurlstone's 'Fatal Interview' of 1835; "I have heard such puddings called blankets and sheets, and a hunting pudding; but commonly we call it a rolley polley." 'Notes of a journey from Cornhill to grand Cairo' (W.M. Thackeray, 1846) has "That lady fancied I was looking at her, though, as far as I could see, she had the figure and complexion of a roly-poly pudding"

Our correspondent Sue Leake tells us us (2020) that "I was refreshing my knowledge of steamed bacon roly-poly pudding using your website. I am pleased to find it corresponds with how my mother and grandmother made it. Its origins, as far as I am aware, are not in some English county but rather in the necessities of food storage and cooking in the navy of a past century. My grandmother learned the recipe and method from her father (my Great-grandfather) who served in the Royal Navy from 1871 until he retired in 1892. He called it an "Ocean Roamer" and it was a favourite of the navy of his day (and most likely much earlier too!)."

The 'Paste Pudding' of Eaton 1822 is similar.

Original Receipt from 'The English Cookery Book' edited by JH Walsh Walsh 1859;

865. This well-known pudding is made by rolling out a thin layer of suet or butter paste, as for puddings, upon which either a preserve or dried currants are spread evenly, leaving an inch bare at the edges all round, except on that next the cook, and then the whole is rolled up into a long pudding, closed at the ends by pinching the paste, and enveloped in the same way in a cloth, which is tied with a string at each end, and boiled about one hour.

Original Receipt from 'The Skilful Cook' by Mary Harrison (Harrison 1884)

Jam Roly-poly Pudding.
Ingredients--1 lb. of flour.
4, 6, or 8 oz. of suet, finely chopped.
Some red jam.
1 teaspoonful of baking powder.
Method.--Put the flour into a basin, and add to it the suet and baking powder.
Mix it with a little cold water and roll it out.
Spread it with the jam, and roll up in the form of a bolster.
Scald and flour a cloth, and sew, or tie, the pudding firmly in it.
Boil for two hours.
Treacle Roly-poly Pudding.
Make like a jam roly-poly, using treacle instead of jam.

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