I don’t suppose many people at all make sponge puddings these days; I think some people might buy them, already in their little plastic pots to microwaved not steamed, but sponge puddings (savoury as well as sweet)mused to be a cheap staple. I guess they might be thought of as unhealthy these days, with the amount of fat they have in them, and the amount of sugar in sweet ones; but it used to be that people were more active, walked or cycled to most places, worked longer hours with fewer labour-saving devices, had no central heating and used up far more calories than we do these days.

As well as steak and kidney pudding, where the meat was enclosed within the crust, we would have a variety of sponge puddings for dessert; jam, treacle, marmalade, ginger, chocolate, fruit, whatever there was in the cupboard. Although dessert puddings can be made with suet, my mum always used margarine and it gave it a more cake like texture – her puds were always light and fluffy, never stodgy or heavy!

She would have used Mrs Beeton or the Be-Ro recipe book, but I came across this Spry ‘What Shall I Cook Today’ cookery book, published in 1936. Spry was or is a sort of vegetable fat and the book is full of all sorts of recipes, some more tempting than others, stewed haddock and brown stew of rabbit don’t sound very appetising!

Sponge pudding

  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 4 oz Spry
  • 4 oz sugar
  • 5 oz flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • a little milk
  • pinch of salt
  • flavourings if desired – lemon rind, orange juice, 2 oz citron (candied lemon peel), sultanas or cherries
  1. beat Spry and sugar to a cream
  2. add flour, baking powder and salt alternately withe the eggs, adding a little milk if necessary
  3. put in a greased basin and cover with a greased paper, steam for 1½ – 2 hours
  4. serve with a sauce

The sauce isn’t given a recipe her, but later in the book there are two, marmalade – 2 tbsp marmalade, 2 oz sugar, ½ pint of water boiled together for 10 mins, or custard:

Custard sauce

  • 1 large tsp cornflour
  • ½ oz Spry
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1 oz sugar
  • ½ pint milk
  • pinch of salt
  • vanilla or other flavouring
  1. mix the cornflour to a smooth paste with a little milk
  2. heat the rest of the milk with the Spry, pour over the cornflour and stir
  3. return to the pan and boil for at least 3 mins, stirring well all the time
  4. add the sugar and flavouring
  5. cool slightly then add beaten egg

6 thoughts on “Good old sponge pudding

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