A shallow, open pastry case of hard hot-water paste filled with a pudding confection, baked. Once a speciality at the annual Deddington Fair held on November 22nd and known as the "Pudden Pie Fair", and still occasionally made locally.*

The distinctive feature of Deddington Pudden Pie seems to be that the crusts were prepared in advance and thoroughly dried-out before filling. The Deddington Historical Society Newsletter 224 for March 2001 has a good acccount of some its history including that a persistent story that "They say you could tie a label to one and send it through the post a hundred miles - so hard it was."

*The spelling is variously Pudding, Pudden or Pudd'n - the latter two no doubt reflecting the lcoal dialect.


Dutton, Allen & Co's Directory & Gazetteer of Oxon, Berks & Bucks' of 1863 says

"... their peculiarity appears to consist in the preparing of a stiff paste about a fortnight before the festival and allowing the same to become hard by exposure then filled with the same materials as an ordinary plum pudding, and afterwards baked."

The compendium 'Notes and Queries' for 1869 reports:

"Old Customs at Deddington: From time immemorial on November 22nd a fair has been held annually at Deddington, formerly a market town in the north of Oxfordshire, for the sale of horses cows pig &c and a number of stalls and shows are put up in the old market place. The tradespeople and others had used to have all but open housekeeping for their friends and customers  but this has much diminished.

One peculiarity connected with it is called Pudding Pie Fair, and woe betides that farmer when he gets home from the gathering If he has not brought some pudding pies.

The bakers and others set to work a week or ten days beforehand preparing these eatables and although many hundreds are baked most of them disappear by the evening of the twenty second. These are made by setting up a crust composed of flour mixed with milk or water and mutton suet melted and poured into It hot  These crusts which are set up like meat pie crusts. are then placed In the sun for a day or two to stiffen. They vary in size from about three to four Inches in diameter, and are about one inch deep. When thoroughly hard they are filled with the same materials as plum puddings are made of and,when baked, are sold at twopence. threepence and fourpence each

One more custom which used to be observed here on this day I will mention - November 22nd  is St Cecilia's Day and till within the last half century a band used to usher in the fair by going round the town about four o'clock in the morning headed by an old man who carried a large horn lantern. and who, after a tune had been played at the vicarage and at various other accustomed halting places, used to call out "Past four o clock and a cloudy. or starlight morning. I wish 'e a merry fair'. The day after the fair these
musicians used to go to certain houses to amuse the visitors who remained with their melodies,  for which they were rewarded with a plentiful supply of the 'Fair tap'."

The November 1976 Deddington News

Pages 2 & 5 (continued) contain an article by Monica Sansome about the history of the Fairs together with the recipe below from from Traditional English Cooking by Angus and Robertson.

Short crust pastry:
4oz. mixed lard and butter
4 tablespoons cold water
1/2 lb flour

To make filling, heat 1 1/2 cups milk (3/4 pint), add 2 rounded tablespoons caster sugar. Mix 3 level tablespoons ground rice and 1 teaspoon salt with 3 tablespoons water. Stir this into the warm milk  Cook and keep stirring until it thickens. Continue cooking "pudden" mixture for further 5 minutes. Remove from heat  Beat two eggs in a bowl and stir into rice mixture  Flavour with 1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence  Roll out pastry and line greased saucers with the pastry. Cover pastry with jam or desiccated coconut  then pour gently a little of "pudden" mixture over. Bake 20 mins. in medium oven (325F) until pastry is cooked underneath. Remove from oven and if liked dust very lightly with ground cinnamon. Nowadays these could be made in an 8" flan about 2" deep. Serve hot or cold.