Dock Pudding is a distinctive West Yorkshire dish apparently only found (and with little wonder!) in the Calder Valley. It is made from dock leaves, nettles, oatmeal, onions, butter and seasoning. The dock pudding is then heated through to form part of a 'traditional' Yorkshire breakfast. The dock leaves used are from Polygonum Bistorta, a sweet variety and not common cow dock leaves. The spinach-like dock leave combo is usually fried together and served with bacon and eggs.
During the Second World War, the German propagandist William Joyce, better known as ‘Lord Haw Haw' announced on German radio that food rationing was so bad in Yorkshire that people had resorted to eating ‘grass', unaware that dock pudding was supposed to be a delicacy!
Mytholmroyd Community & Leisure Centre continues to host the World Dock Pudding Championship every year. The contest was first held in 1971 to major TV and news coverage nationwide.
2000 to 2002 saw a winning streak for husband and wife team Trevor and Joan Whitworth.
In 2003 after a three-way tie break , 23-year-old Owen Colville (ironically chef for the sponsors, Holdsworth House) was judged the winner by the panel. Interestingly, until that day Colville had never cooked dock pudding!
In 2004, the award was won by Jette Howard, who also admitted that this was the first year she'd made dock pudding. In a break with tradition, Ms Howard created a vegetarian version using olive oil, onions and mushrooms served up with a pancake to narrowly win the title from Mr. Whitworth who was only one point behind.
The 2005 Dock Pudding Festival turned up another huge surprise as 13 year old twins, Clare and Kate Morrison, were declared World Dock Pudding Champions as well as claiming the Junior Prize. In a close result, former champions, Joan and Trevor Whitworth were relegated to second place with Doris Hurst third.
Clare and Kate had been particularly keen to do well this year as they had been tutored by a close friend of the family, Mary Knowles, 79, who had been unable to enter the contest herself due to illness. Sadly, Mary died in January and Clare and Kate dedicated their victory to her memory. Their plate included a fried egg and also the traditional local potato cake.
2 lb fresh, sweet variety dock leaves (polygonum distorta)
2 large onions, or 2 large bunches of spring onions
½ lb nettles
A handful of oatmeal
A knob of butter
Salt and pepper to taste
Wash and clean the dock leaves and remove the stalks
Wash and clean the nettles
Chop the onions
Fry the vegetables in the butter until tender
Add the oatmeal and cook for about 20 minutes, stirring to prevent the mixture from sticking, the pudding is then ready for eating or for storing in a sealed container
For more information about the Dock Pudding Championships