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Home • Recipe • Traditional • Jam Roly Poly
Published by Amy
The classic comfort pudding of the UK. Jam Roly-poly is best served warm, with lots and lots of custard!
Fun fact… Despite doing Baking with Granny for nearly 8 years now, I still consider myself a novice baker. Something that annoys friends who come to me for recipes and baking advice.
Hear me out though! I grew up surrounded by Granny’s amazing baking, that doesn’t mean I am naturally a great baker. I didn’t study baking of any kind and I’m still very much a home baker.
Like any baker (including Granny!), it takes a lot of learning, and a lot of trial & error to perfect a recipe. It’s very rare that when I will have a recipe I want to share, I make it only the once, and it comes out perfect. Nine times out of ten, I will make a recipe at least 4-5 times before I feel I’ve got a hold of it and I’m happy to share it with the world.
This most certainly the case with Jam Roly-poly, let me tell you!
Despite being a bit of classic pudding here in the UK, I’ve never really had Jam Roly-poly more than a handful of times. And I’m pretty certain it was just a cheap frozen one when I did have it. So when it came to making it to share with all of you, I really was starting from scratch!
I did a lot of experimenting to find the perfect ratio of ingredients, flavours and getting the dough texture spot on. And despite feeling I had eventually master those, I still couldn’t roll a beautifully neat Jam Roly-poly. Surely it shouldn’t be so difficult to roll some jam-filled pastry around itself?!
In the end, I’ve gone for taste over beauty, and accepted that there’s not really such a thing as a “neat” Jam Roly Poly! And I think that’s just part of the charm.
Jam Roly-poly is a traditional pudding (dessert) here in the UK. It’s a simple concept, of a relatively easy suet pastry, with a generous spreading of jam. It’s rolled into a log-like shape and steam-baked in your oven, until golden and delicious. Best served warm with custard, or some ice cream.
Jam Roly-poly used to be a staple pudding at school dinners, alongside Cornflake Tart and School Cake. Nowadays it’s considered a bit more nostalgic and definitely in the comfort food category.
Don’t let their rolled and jam-filled appearance fool you! Swiss Roll and Jam Roly Poly are very different! Jam Roly Poly is made with a steam-baked suet pastry dough, so has quite a spongey, slightly stodgy texture. Swiss Roll on the other hand is made with a genoise-style sponge, so is very light in and fluffy in texture.
Both are very delcious but very different indeed!
Yes! Absolutely. In fact, using vegetable suet in a Jam Roly-poly is actually my preference. Of course, traditionally you would use beef suet but like I explain in the Ingredients list below, I prefer using vegetable suet due to not eating meat, as well as finding the idea of beef in a sweet pudding a little bit odd. #sorrynotsorry
This Jam Roly Poly recipe is great for freezing. The best way to do it is by slicing your roly-poly into individual portions, then popping a little bit of greaseproof paper between slices and placing them into a freezer bag or Tupperware. Then simply remove from the freezer a slice at a time and microwave when ready to enjoy.
Self-raising FlourJam Roly-poly isn’t known for being a particularly light and fluffy cake. In fact, it’s quite the opposite – more like stodge and comfort! We do use a self-raising flour despite this though. Why? Because we do want a little bit of a rise & lift as it bakes. Without it, you will have a not-so pleasant roly-poly. Trust me!
Butter or MargarineTraditionally, a Jam Roly Poly would only use suet as the fat of choice, however I find butter or margarine creates a nicer dough over all. It adds a bit more moisture and flavour, as well as a bit of colour too.You want your butter or margarine to be cold when you use it. And if using a margarine, be sure to use a block margarine as opposed to the spreadable kind. The latter will make your dough too soft and difficult to handle.
Caster SugarAgain, sugar is maybe not the most traditional addition to a Roly-poly dough, however I do consider it a must. Without it, your Roly-poly can taste a little bland. You will of course have sweetness in the jam but adding a little extra sweetness to the dough mixture helps elevate the flavours to another level, as well as avoiding any blandness.
Shredded SuetSuet is perhaps the key ingredient in a Roly Poly, and what actually makes it what it is! First of all, what is suet? Traditionally, suet is the hard fat from an animal (usually beef or lamb) – also known as the “saturated fat”. Yummy… It used to be a very common ingredient in cooking and baking but has fallen out of fashion a little these days, due to a fear around consuming too much saturated fats & alternatives being readily available.Jam Roly-poly uses a traditional(ish) suet pastry dough, which of course calls for the use of suet – this gives it the familiar spongey, somewhat stodgy, but endlessly comforting texture.
It is personal preference whether you use a Beef Suet or a Vegetable Suet. I always opt for vegetable, simply because I don’t eat meat – something to consider if you are making one for any vegetarians. But I also have a bit of mental block around the idea of using beef in a sweet pudding – it just doesn’t seem right to me! (Sorry, suet-purists!).
MilkAgain, it may not be considered the most traditional way to do a suet pastry dough – water would be the old fashioned way to make it. But milk adds a nice richness and flavour that the dough may otherwise lack. The recipe calls for 150ml of milk but you may need more or less, depending on factors like the quality of ingredients, the temperature of your kitchen, the humidity & the weather (yes, really!). So add a little at a time and don’t feel obliged to use all the milk if it doesn’t need it.
JamI use raspberry jam; partly because it’s my favourite, and partly because it photographs better due to the darker colour creating a nice contrast! You can use whatever jam you prefer though. Strawberry or raspberry are the obvious choices but the options are truly endless. I tend to choose a seedless jam for this bake, as I think it lends to a nicer roly-poly; but again, the decision is yours.
• Give your jam a good stir before you start to spread it on your pastry dough – it will go on much smoother then. A small palette knife is also handy to give you an even spreading.
• When it comes to rolling your Jam Roly-poly, having something long & flat to help you start the initial roll can be helpful. I use a metal ruler but a palette knife or icing scraper would be ideal too.
• Some roly-poly recipes will call for a dusting of sugar on top before serving. I haven’t included that step in this recipe as we add a little sugar to the suet pastry. But if you wish to dust some sugar on your roly-poly, do this whilst it is still warm, before serving. Caster sugar is also best for this purpose.
Gluten-free: I haven’t tried making a gluten-free Jam Roly-poly, so I can’t say for certain how successful it would be; but in theory you should be able to just replace the flour for a gluten-free self-raising flour. If you do try, let me know how it turns out!
Egg-free: No eggs are used in this Jam Roly-poly recipe, but be sure to double check your individual ingredients for any hidden allergens.
Nut-free: No nuts are used in this Jam Roly Poly recipe, but be sure to double check your individual ingredients or any hidden nuts.
Dairy-free: To make this a dairy-free Jam Roly-poly recipe, simply use a diary-free margarine and a milk alternative of your choice. I have used soya milk in the past with good success.
Vegan: To make this a vegan Jam Roly Poly, simply follow the dairy-free tips above.
Hi, I’ve not yet tried this recipe, but at secondary school in the 1970s we had syrup suet for pudding with custard. We would go back for seconds, thirds and more if possible. Scrumptious
this is definately a recipe to save for winter!! i live in france and we have a heatwave! 33 degrees and rising
The best one I have ever made,thank you
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Hello, I’m Amy, the voice-behind and creator-of Baking with Granny.
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