Delia Smith's Winter Collection
MARCH 18 2012

Steamed treacle pudding.. have you any idea!?! I sure didn't. How about the fact that "pudding" is actually cake. And Delia assumed I am blithely steaming puddings every holiday and therefore failed to mention exactly how to steam a pudding and what that even means. So I turned to my friend internet for more guidance and discovered it is basically a sponge cake cooked in a steam bath for hours and I should be able to rig up a steaming contraption fairly easily from my various pots and bowls. So, here goes!

My steaming plan involves my pressure cooker pot with the non-locking lid, a steamer basket with a handle, a random prong of metal to keep the steamer basket off the bottom of the pot and my smallest nesting glass bowl. This, I am confident, will result in exceptional pudding!

my steaming contraption

today's pudding brought to you by: treacle

I immediately break the hard and fast rule of Proper Puddings by not giving my butter all night to soften and in fact only give it about 15 minutes, which means it is not at all softened and doesn't really mix that well into the batter. Um... oops? Thankfully I don't know enough about baking or puddings to really care so onward and upward!

My batter has been whipped together as well as possible with my poorly softened butter. Now into a buttered bowl into which gobs of golden syrup have been poured with the intent that it will coat the top of the pudding in, I guess, a golden sheen. Smooth out the top and cover with foil then carefully lower the bowl into the water. Bring it all to a boil then simmer 2 hours, making sure the pot doesn't run out of water. Not that hard, really! Hope it's working...

cover with foil (ignoring the butter chunks)

place in steamer contraption

let 'er rip!

The moment of truth: my pudding is unveiled and turns out to have worked quite nicely! Cooked through, still quite moist and it even unmolds from my bowl without issue. Lookin' good! I have also secured a tin of custard which I hope will taste okay and take this pudding over the edge into Full Proper Pudding territory.

will this custard make you proper enough, little pudding?

Who wants pudding!?!?!

Mmm... I like steamed pudding. Not too sweet, just-dense-enough spongey-cakey texture. I do not, however, much like the custard and think next time I would opt for the more tart and contrasting creme fraîche. But no complaints! Hubby even has seconds and then thirds. Success!

proper steamed pudding in a puddle of custard. lovely.


Serves 6 - 8

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 self-raising flour
1 rounded teaspoon baking powder
6 oz butter, softened
3 large eggs
6 oz soft light brown sugar

To serve:
3 extra tablespoons golden syrup
Custard or crème fraîche

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


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

This recipe is taken from Delia Smith’s Winter Collection.

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