Jam roly-poly – or shirt-sleeve pudding, dead man’s arm or dead man’s leg as it is otherwise known – is a traditional British pudding created in the early 19th century. Here we’re mixing Bakewell tart flavours with roly-poly pudding using almond-flavoured suet pastry along with cherry jam. The key to success is the roll. Don’t roll the pastry too tightly, otherwise it will expand and explode during baking.
Make the jam. Put the cherries in a small, deep-sided saucepan, add the sugar and lemon juice and bring the mixture to the boil over a low heat. Crush the cherries and sugar together using a potato masher, then when the sugar has dissolved, increase the heat and boil for a further 4 minutes, until thickened. Remove the pan from the heat and carefully pour the jam into a shallow container. Leave it to cool and set.
Meanwhile, heat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/400°F/Gas 6 and make the pastry.
Tip the flour into a bowl. Add the butter, suet and sugar and stir everything together with a table knife. Mix the milk and almond extract together in a jug, then pour the liquid (you may not need it all, so go carefully) into the flour mixture and bring it together with the knife to form a soft but not wet dough. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 3–4 minutes, until smooth.
Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to a rectangle measuring about 30 x 20cm.
Stir the jam to loosen it, if necessary, then spread it over the dough leaving a 1.5cm border around each edge.
Position the dough so that a long edge is closest to you. Working from that long edge, loosely roll the dough (it will expand during baking) into a sausage shape and seal the ends by pinching them together. With the long join underneath, transfer the roly-poly to the centre of the greased parchment-foil. Bring both the long sides of the foil up and over the roll and seal it with a double pleat, leaving room for the roly-poly to expand. Seal the ends, then place the wrapped roll on a baking sheet.
Boil a kettle of water and place a roasting tin on the bottom rack of the oven. Pour the boiling water into the roasting tin, then place the roly-poly on the middle shelf above the roasting tin. Bake the roly-poly for 50–55 minutes, until the pastry is risen inside the wrapping and golden when you take a peek.
Meanwhile, place a non-stick frying pan over a medium–low heat. Add the flaked almonds and toast them until golden. Remove the flaked almonds from the pan and set them aside.
While the roly-poly is baking, make the custard. Heat the milk in a heavy-based saucepan over a medium heat to just below boiling point.
In a large mixing bowl, using an electric hand whisk, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, cornflour and vanilla extract until pale and fluffy.
Whisking continuously, pour the warmed milk over the egg mixture, then return the mixture to the pan and cook over a very low heat for 3–4 minutes, stirring continuously, until the custard is smooth and thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove the custard from the heat and set it aside.
Unwrap the baked roly-poly and trim both ends to reveal the swirl, then place it on a serving plate. Scatter the toasted almonds over the top of the roll and serve it in slices with the custard in a jug for pouring over.