Treacle sponge

Treacle sponge

How to Cook Desserts
Peter Cassidy

This all-time traditional favourite is best served with crème anglaise or thick vanilla custard. You will need an 850ml pudding basin.


Quantity Ingredient
120g butter, softened, plus extra to grease
75g golden syrup
3 teaspoons fresh white breadcrumbs
120g caster sugar
1 lemon
2 large eggs, at room temperature
120g self-raising flour
1 teaspoon ground ginger


  1. Grease the pudding basin well with butter. Prepare the saucepan for steaming and the cover for the pudding. Weigh the golden syrup into the bowl and sprinkle over the breadcrumbs.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl until pale and fluffy. Finely grate the zest from half of the lemon and stir into the mixture.
  3. Beat the eggs lightly in a separate bowl to loosen and gradually add to the creamed butter and sugar, beating well after each addition.
  4. Sift the flour and ginger together and carefully fold into the mixture with a large metal spoon.
  5. Spoon the mixture into the pudding basin and level the surface. Cover with the greaseproof paper and foil and secure under the rim.
  6. Place the pudding basin on the trivet in the steamer and pour in enough boiling water to come at least halfway up the sides of the basin (not touching the foil). Place the pan over a medium heat and ensure the water is bubbling gently, but still not coming into contact with the foil. Put the lid on the saucepan and steam the pudding for 1¼–1½ hours, checking the water level in the saucepan frequently and topping up with hot water to ensure it doesn’t burn dry and no heat is lost.
  7. Lift the pudding out of the steamer and remove the string, foil and greaseproof paper. Wearing oven gloves, invert a serving dish over the bowl and turn both over together. Give the pudding basin a sharp shake, which should release the pudding, then carefully remove the basin.


  • To make individual sponges, butter 6 individual pudding basins or dariole moulds and put 1 tbsp golden syrup and 1 tsp breadcrumbs in the bottom of each. Divide the mixture between them and proceed as for the main recipe, covering them individually with foil and greaseproof paper. (As this is time-consuming, you might prefer to use heatproof plastic pudding basins with snap-on lids.) Reduce the cooking time to 25 minutes.

    To make a lemon sponge pudding, omit the syrup, breadcrumbs and ground ginger. Add the finely grated zest of 2 lemons to the mixture and proceed as for the main recipe, cooking the pudding for 1½ hours. Warm 150g lemon curd to a thick coating consistency and pour over the pudding before serving.
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