Steamed Treacle Sponge Pudding
In Margaret Costa's Four Seasons Cookery Book (one of my most treasured cookbooks), there's a chapter in the winter section which she called 'Proper Puddings' – proper being a word that best describes the wealth of classic English puddings that have sadly been eclipsed by, on the one hand, a preoccupation with so-called healthy eating and, on the other, the need to impress. Treacle sponge pudding does not sound as sophisticated as, say, a Marbled Marquise with three types of chocolate served with a coffee bean sauce. The fact is, though, that treacle pudding probably tastes a whole lot better and, dare I say, could end up being a far more sophisticated option simply because of its rarity. It's a pudding in my experience that is loved by absolutely everyone, aged one to 101. It's dead simple to make, steams away happily all by itself and, if you're not ready for it, can go on happily steaming into extra time without coming to any harm. If you've never made a steamed pudding, you'll be surprised at how easy it is and, because it's an all-in-one method (not tiresome creaming and adding the egg bit by bit), the only hard-and-fast rule is that you have to make sure the butter is really soft. This means taking it out of the fridge and leaving it at room temperature overnight or for several hours. You could use soft whipped margarine, but you won't get anything like the flavour.
|1 tablespoon black treacle|
|3 tablespoons golden syrup|
|6 oz (175 g) self-raising flour|
|1 rounded teaspoon baking powder|
|6 oz (175 g) butter, softened|
|3 large eggs|
|6 oz (175 g) soft light brown sugar|
|3 extra tablespoons golden syrup|
|custard or crème fraîche|
|Need help with conversions?|
You will also need a 2 pint (1.2 litre) pudding basin, well buttered, a large mixing bowl, greaseproof paper and foil measuring 16 in by 12 in (40 cm x 30 cm), some string and scissors.
This recipe is taken from Delia Smith's Winter Collection. It has also appeared in Sainsbury's Magazine (Jan 1994).
First of all butter the basin, then measure 3 tablespoons of golden syrup into it. Then take a large mixing bowl, sift the flour and baking powder into it, add the softened butter, eggs, sugar and black treacle.
Next, using an electric hand whisk (or a large fork and lots of elbow grease), beat the mixture for about 2 minutes until it's thoroughly blended. Now spoon the mixture into the basin and level the top using the back of the tablespoon. Place the sheet of foil over the greaseproof paper, make a pleat in the centre, and place this, foil-side uppermost, on top of the pudding. Pull it down the sides and tie the string, taking the string over the top and tying it on the other side to make yourself a handle for lifting. Trim off the excess paper all the way round.
Now steam the pudding for 2 hours, checking the water level halfway through. To serve, loosen the pudding all round using a palette knife, invert it on to a warmed plate, and pour an extra 3 tablespoons of syrup (warmed if you like) over the top before taking it to the table. Serve with custard or some well chilled crème fraîche.
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There are times when, for speed, bought fresh custard is fine, but when you're cooking a leisurely Sunday lunch make sure you make the real deal to go with your pies and crumbles - it's dead easy once you know how!
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