So I have heard a lot about the Bedfordshire Clanger, mainly from TV shows including the Great British Bake Off but also from people locally and I knew exactly where to go to find out more.
Gunns Bakery is a traditional family bakery based in Bedfordshire since 1928. It’s one of the last producers of the Bedfordshire Clanger and has done so for the last 50 years, maintaining the tradition and history of this tasty treat. It was originally eaten by farm labourers and has a meat filling with a sweet end. Great in the good old days as it’s portable, cheap to make, filling and very high in calories so perfect for the hard working farm staff.
But what about today? Why do people eat them and why the resurgence? Well you could say the Clanger was one of the original fast foods, it was made from the remains of your evening meal and would have been boiled, like a suet pudding. Gunns varied the original method by baking, rather than boiling the clangers – although the pastry is still made to the original suet-based recipe apparently. This made it in my opinion Bedfordshire’s answer to the Cornish pasty but with the unique twist of flavours – savoury and sweet. The Clangers are perfect to eat with a pint, or as a wholesome lunch on the go, perfect for the time poor which most of us are these days. Plus it’s two fillings for the price of one.
The Taste Test
I always see a steady stream of people coming out of Gunns Bakery on the high street in Bedford, so I thought why not? Let’s give it a go.
So I had a wide choice to choose from as I walked up to the Bakery... the bright and vibrant notice board outside the shop proudly advertised:
"Why not try our famous BEDFORDSHIRE CLANGERS.. as seen on Jamie and Jimmy's Friday Night Feast!
Traditional: Gammon, Potato, Onion with Apple
OR Try our new varieties..
Pork and Cider with Roasted Apple
Beef and Ale with Rhubarb and Custard
Cream Vegetable with Apple and Sultanas (V)
Bombay Vegetable Curry with Mango (V)
Well for my first taste I went for the Port and Cider with Roasted Apple Clanger on the recommendation of the lovely shop assistant. I didn’t know that ‘two holes means meat’, ‘three knife slits means pudding’ so I ended up eating the roasted apple section first! Oh well it was a nice surprise and the main meat filling was lovely. A nice balance of flavours and a huge portion (about a foot long in size) and t be honest I could have saved half for later but I didn’t want to and all for a good value £3 (at time of writing)
More tasty treats including another Bedfordshire favourite Chocolate Toothpaste Cake
Whilst the Bedfordshire Clanger is clearly a great selling point to Gunn’s Bakery, they also produce a wide variety of freshly baked breads, a huge variety of sandwiches/filled rolls for lunch, sausage rolls, cakes, decorated biscuits and doughnuts. They also have a full range of fresh cream cakes and you can order celebration cakes and buffets for parties. So as you can imagine there was a lot to take in when I looked around the bakery! However one cake took my fancy as I hadn’t seen it before. I asked the shop assistant what it was and she proudly said ‘oh that’s Chocolate Toothpaste cake.’ The lady next to me said ‘we had it all the time at school; it’s a Bedfordshire thing I think’
I bought one to try and was very curious to taste it. This desert combines a pastry bottom, chocolate mousse filling and a squirt of cream on the top. It was a very generous portion and to my amazement it didn’t taste of mint at all! Yes I didn’t know that it’s the texture of the mouse (apparently) which gave it its name rather than the taste. It is quite a rich pudding but definitely worth a try if you haven’t sampled one before.
So if you want to give any of these Bedfordshire treats a try you can find Gunn’s Bakery at the below locations.
Sandy: 8 Market Square,Sandy Bedfordshire. SG19 1HU
Bedford: 51 High Street, Bedford,MK40 1RZ
Biggleswade: 12 Hitchin St, Biggleswade, SG18 8AX