Last minute lady

What’s for Pudding, Mum?

How do you define a British pudding? What makes it different from the sweet desserts you get around the rest of the world? Some might call our desserts stodgy, but not me. When cooked properly our puddings can be as delicate as they are sweet.

Take our famous Bread and Butter Pudding (see above photo) for example. Fine slices of buttered brioche, liberally scattered with plump juicy sultanas, drenched in creamy vanilla sweet custard and baked until crisp on the top and suitably oozing custard from underneath. Cooked badly on the other hand it can resemble a squidgy brick.

Many of our puddings have had makeovers over the years. From the 1970’s, a layered sherry trifle springs to mind. For years I couldn’t even contemplate it as it was always stuffed full of processed jelly, cheap sponge and powdered custard, but now, as it has grown up, it’s now made with almond sponge (or amaretti biscuits if were not being too fussed with British ingredients) drenched in sherry (or amaretto), topped with lightly poached summer fruits, thick vanilla custard and, softly whipped cream, fresh raspberries and flaked, toasted almonds – we are speaking more my language.

The pudding that I cannot turn down if it’s on the menu and is always a winner with, well… everyone, is Sticky Toffee Pudding. It is simply a baked sponge cake that is made tooth-suckingly sticky by having pureed medjool dates that have been soaked in tea, (my favorite is Earl Grey) mixed through it. It is then served with a sticky toffee sauce drenched over it and if that wasn’t enough, a good dollop of clotted cream or crème fraiche to finish it off. Scrumptious!

But, my all time favorite pudding has to be a crumble. Traditionally apple, but I must say I am a bit of a sucker for a more modern approach. I love rhubarb, pear and ginger crumble as much as I love blackberry and apple crumble. The crumble comes from butter, flour and sugar being crumbled together into pastry clumps which when baked are crisp and um…crumbly. Fruit puddings generally are what get me excited. Apple Charlotte, which is kind of like an apple pie but with a crisp bread crust and Eve’s Pudding, which is a bit like a crumble but with a Victoria sponge topping are two that spring to mind that I would find hard to turn down.

We have some peculiar names for our puds too. Spotted Dick, which is a suet-based steamed pud that’s studded with currants. Sussex Pond Pudding, another suet-based pudding stuffed with a whole lemon which infuses the pud while cooking then makes the ‘pond’ when cut into. Jam Roly Poly, which yet again is a suet-pud, this time spread with jam then rolled into a sausage before being steamed. It is safe to say we like our suet puddings and it is safe to say that our puddings are almost always served with custard.

We do have delicate puddings like a burnt cream or set cream, which are both delightful and basically translate as a crème brulee and a panacotta, “UK Style.” Couldn’t confirm who actually ‘owns’ these recipes as a nation, but we would most certainly do our best to try to prove these as our own.

I could go on, but I won’t, instead I’ll just leave you with a Sticky Toffee Pudding recipe that I bid you to try. I guarantee you will be on the rampage for more British pud recipes pronto.

Sticky Toffee Pudding

This is my boyfriend Dean’s recipe and while he is a fantastic cook, he is so damn lazy he never cooks for me, except for this. And my God does it make up for it. The toffee-ish dates keep the pudding really moist.

250g dates, stoned and chopped
250ml black tea, made with 1 teabag, I love Earl Grey
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
85g unsalted butter, softened
175g caster sugar (white sugar)
2 large eggs, beaten
175g self-raising flour, sieved
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

For the sauce:
150g light muscovado sugar (or sugar in the raw)
150g unsalted butter
200ml double cream (or heavy cream)

Heat oven to 180C. Place the dates in a small saucepan, then cover with the hot tea. Bring to the boil and cook for 3 – 4 minutes so the dates soften, then stir in the bicarbonate.
As when baking a cake, cream together the butter and sugar before adding the eggs one at a time. Fold in the flour, vanilla and date mixture, then pour into a 22cm buttered baking dish. Bake for 30 – 35 minutes until the top is springy and you can pull a skewer out clear.
While the pudding is cooking, make the sauce by putting the sugar, butter and cream into a saucepan. Place over a low heat and melt the sugar until it has dissolved then whack the heat up and simmer for 3-4 minutes or until the sauce is a light toffee colour.

Serve the pudding with the warm sauce and a big scoop of vanilla ice cream or clotted cream.

To convert Gizzi’s recipes into US measurements, use the tool found on

11 Responses to “What’s for Pudding, Mum?”

  1. Beth says:


  2. Deborah says:

    I had a pudding in Yorkshire called “stodge” which was covered in thin hot custard. It was so rich and decadent and there’s nothing in the U.S. that compares. I would love to have a recipe for that.

  3. Leslie says:

    This is more like it. I can not wait to try it out!


  4. Liz says:

    Sounds delish…will try it soon!

  5. Maggie says:

    Looks great, wish it was already converted to US measurements/temps…


  6. Paul says:

    Reading this blog really made me feel that I needed a taste of home!

  7. Linda says:

    When talking with Mr. ORielly you said something like if you work hard, you will be noticed and will work your way up. It doesn’t happen for everyone. I always worked hard but I never got much higher than when I started. Maybe it worked for you but like I said we don’t all get promoted or get better jobs no matter how hard we work.

  8. Patty says:

    I just converted all of the measurements on this recipe and thought I would share them. Here are the converted measurements:

    2 cups dates
    1 cup black tea, brewed
    1 tsp baking soda
    3/4 stick of butter
    1 1/2 cups of sugar
    2 large eggs
    1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
    1 tsp of vanilla


    1 cup raw sugar
    2/3 cup butter
    1 cup heavy cream

    Bake it in a 9″x11″ baking pan at 350 degrees.


  9. Just learning says:

    Thanks Patty! Any suggestions on what to use besides dates.

  10. Leslie says:

    You can take the dates out completely. I guess any fruit that gets sticky when baking would work. Apricot maybe?

  11. Gizzi Erskine says:

    Hi guys,

    Once again thanks for all your comments. Sorry about the USA measurements. AM still trying to get my head round them myself.

    With regards to the dates, the reason they are used into the pud is because the best medjool dates have a naturally toffee-like taste and texture. Unfortunately no other dried fruit really gives the same sort of flavor. The closest you would find would be sultanas, but they still aresnt really sticky enough.

    I know some people are not a big fan of dates as a fruit, but when pureed and stired into a pudding they simply add toffee flavor and the sort of moisture that makes the cake a little sticky. Try it and see. If its a cost thing, then you don’t need to go for the expensive medjool variety. Go for whichever grapes you can get your mits on!

    Till next time


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