Food Road Trip – Bedfordshire Clanger

by Barry Lewis


Ok so the Bedfordshire clanger, what does that mean to you when I say that?! Well i’d heard of the it before but was never really sure what it was. I had a comment from the user Penguin 101 suggesting I head to Bedford and try a clanger:

bedfordshire clanger chocolate toothpaste

So finally off the back of a 9 Month wait I decided to try this thing out and rather than taking the family and dogs with me as suggested, I took my other wife, Jimmedy James. This was to be a 6 Hour round trip in total and we were going to aim for the legendary Gunns Bakery in Bedford, apparently the home of the Bedfordshire Clanger.

What is a Bedfordshire Clanger? What is chocolate toothpaste?

Well this is pretty cool, with a story behind it similar to Cornish pasties where the crust was never eaten by workers and except used as an area to hold the pasty. Rather than typing it out, i’ll let Wikipedia tell youy:

“The Bedfordshire Clanger is a dish from the English county of Bedfordshire, dating back to at least the 19th century. The clanger is an elongated suet crust dumpling similar to a pasty, with a savoury filling at one end and a sweet filling at the other, comprising a main course and dessert in one package. It is traditionally steamed but may be baked for robustness. The crust was not originally intended for consumption but to protect the fillings from the soiled hands of the workers.

EDIT – I did not know the pastry was not meant to be consumed, steamed pastry does not sound appealing this makes sense, the ones we had were baked!

The savoury end is traditionally meat with diced potatoes and vegetables (although a filling without meat is also possible), and the sweet end is usually jam, or sweetened apple or other fruit. Traditionally the top of the clanger is scored with a few lines to denote the sweet end.

Historically, the Bedfordshire Clanger was made by women for their husbands to take to their agricultural work as a midday meal. The dish is still available at various bakers and served at some hotels, restaurants and local places of interest.”

Nice….. so the chocolate toothpaste……

Well this is from School Dinners from Years back, they would be a popular served dessert, where the chocolate filling would stick to your teeth and that’s where it would look like chocolate toothpaste, yep no tubes here. So, yes all in all, a good story and a good excuse to try some food.

Summary – Road trip needed!

So now you have a rough idea of what a Bedfordshire Clanger and Chocolate toothpaste is, watch the video of our road trip to Bedford. You’ve really got to go and try one of these and the possibilities for homemade ones are endless!