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
Gunns Bakery8 Market Square, Sandy, SG19 1HU, England
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.