Bedfordshire Clanger - Gastro Obscura
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Bedfordshire Clanger

A double-ended British pastry that's both main course and dessert.

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.

Where to Try It
  • This bakery led a revival of clangers by updating the recipe. The website lists additional store locations, and the bakery supplies grocery stores with clangers, too.

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