There’s nothing like eating a treacle sponge on a cold, miserable day. It’s the perfect warming, winter dessert to help you get through the darker months.
The treacle sponge is a traditional British pudding. It is a steamed pudding with treacle cooked, and sometimes poured, over the top. Although it is known as treacle sponge, it is more often made with golden syrup.
Steamed puddings have a long history in British cooking. They were mentioned in one of the first ever recipe books, The English Huswife, originally published in 1615. These early steamed puddings were made from suet boiled in a cloth in pots that were also used to cook meat. My 1805 edition of Hannah Glasse’s The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy contains many puddings that are boiled, such as “boiled plum pudding”, “custard pudding”, and “almond pudding”. Later on, specific pudding basins were invented and the puddings were cooked over, rather than in, water.
Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management (1861) includes a whole chapter entitled “General Observations on Puddings and Pastry”. In this she states that”a simple form of pudding was amongst the first dishes made after discovering a mode of grinding wheat into flour…”. She also includes many pudding recipes such as “Baked or Boiled Arrowroot Pudding”, “Boiled Bread Pudding” and “Canary Pudding”, as well as a recipe for “Rolled Treacle Pudding”. This uses suet crust, treacle and grated ginger. This pudding can be baked or boiled and Mrs Beeton states that it has been included in the volume because it is “economical, and a favourite one with children; it is, of course, only suitable for a nursery or a very plain family dinner.”
Simple to prepare, and absolutely delicious, treacle sponge is the ultimate comfort dessert.
- 8 oz / 225g flour
- 4 oz / 110g butter
- 2 oz / 50g sugar
- 1 egg
- 5 tbsp milk
- 3 tbsp golden syrup
- Grease a 2-pint / 1.2-litre pudding basin or bowl thoroughly
- In a seperate bowl, rub the butter and flour together with your fingers until it resembles breadcrumbs
- Stir in the sugar
- In a seperate bowl or jug beat together the egg and milk
- Pour this into the flour mixture and mix until combined
- Spoon the syrup into the bottom of the greased pudding basin and pour the sponge mixture over the top
- Tightly cover the bowl with silver foil, making a pleat in the centre to allow space for the sponge to rise.
- Steam in a large saucepan half filled with water for 1 1/2 hours