You might nibble a pasty or gobble a pie, but you clang a Bedfordshire clanger. That’s because this pastry, which comes from the South-East of the United Kingdom, takes its name from the local slang for eating voraciously. (Think of the noise teeth make when clashing together.)
Bedfordshire clangers are foot-long pastries with a handy division in the middle. One side contains the main course: a stew of meat, potatoes, and vegetables. The other is dessert: usually jam or sweetened apples.
The savory and sweet pastry began its life as a humble dumpling. In the 19th century, wives and mothers turned leftovers into clangers that menfolk took to eat on the job. It was a local version of a bento box or brown bag lunch, made by steaming, which gave the exterior a damp, doughy consistency. Clangers were mostly soggy stodge, with a smear of jam for flavour.
Today’s Bedfordshire clangers are more gastronomic. At Gunns Bakery, which led a revival of the pastry, owner David Gunns bakes his clangers, which makes for a sturdier, flavorful crust. In addition, a handy, secret code distinguishes the sweet and savory sides of Gunns’ clangers: Two tiny holes means meat; three knife slits means sweet.
Need to Know
Get thee to Bedfordshire! And if you can't, you'll find a bevy of updated recipes—from Jamie Oliver, Rick Stein, and other British celebrity chefs—online. Vegetable curry and mango aren’t the traditional fillings, but they are delicious.