Bedfordshire clanger’s are a suet based pastry dish. They are one of the best known dishes to come out of the Bedfordshire. Comparisons are often made to the Cornish Pasty or the Sussex Bacon Pudding, however a Clanger has both a savoury and a sweet end to it, providing a two course meal in one go.
Traditionally, they were made by housewives to give to their husbands who worked in the Bedfordshire fields, as farm labourers. It would typically be their midday meal. The original recipes called for the clangers to be wrapped in cloth and then boiled. Clangers were often eaten cold but were sometimes wrapped in damp newspaper before being reheated on a fire. It is easy to picture farmworkers huddled around a small fire at the side of a field reheating their lunch on a cold winters morning. Some modern recipes use a shortcrust pastry, although many still use suet pastry, both of which are then baked, these can be microwaved to reheat, how times have changed.
Filling the clanger, the savoury end would have traditionally been the cheaper cuts of meat, often fatty cuts of bacon, and potatoes . The sweet end may have been jam or fruit based. As these were made by poorer agricultural families, the cheaper fillings would have been the most common as they would have used up all the leftover food from other meals.
There is no definitive recipe for a Bedfordshire Clanger as many local families would have their own version that were passed down through the generations. They would have constantly been tweaked and changed to suit what was available at the time. Season to season, different fruits and veg would have been in season. Also from decade to decade different foods would have been popular or become more readily available. You can ask many Bedfordshire residents for their family recipe and no two will be identical.
Today, Bedfordshire Clangers are sold mainly by bakeries across the county using the more modern baked recipes. The fillings are a lot more diverse and reflect modern tastes. Gunn’s Bakery is a small chain of bakers which are often credited with reigniting the public awareness of the Bedfordshire Clanger. Their fillings now include vegetarian and curry flavours, as well as several different meat choices. Even seasonal Christmas varieties available with turkey and stuffing at one end and Christmas pudding at the other!
You can try your hand at making a Bedfordshire Clanger with our version of a Bedfordshire Clanger Recipe. Download it HERE. Don’t forget to tell us how it turned out!