I guess I have always held a soft spot for England. As a child I used to devour anything I could get my hands on that was written by Enid Blyton, and as I read those books they carried me away to a land I could only dream about.
I read about boarding schools and tuck boxes and lovely treats like cherry cakes and cinder toffee. Those kids had wonderful adventures and to a budding foodie, even better food . . . much more exciting than anything that I had ever experienced at home. I would dream of tucking into sticky toffee puddings with lashings of cream. Don't you just love that word . . . lashings . . . it conjures up such a wonderful image of a lovely dessert just swimming in rich goodness and lip smacking delight.
One dessert that was mentioned over and over again was Treacle Sponge. I had no idea what treacle was but in my mind it sounded exotic and wonderful, and most certainly the characters in the books I was reading certainly enjoyed it!
There are two types of treacle over here, dark treacle, which is very similar to molasses, but much, much stronger. When I first came over here I made the mistake of thinking that it was just the same and made some gingersnaps for some of the ladies at my church one evening when they came over and they were horrible!!!
Highly inedible. One only needs a little bit of it to get the same impact as the mild molasses we are used to in North America. Lesson learned. When I use it now I mix it half and half with the other Treacle, light treacle, or Golden Syrup. Much much more palatable.
Golden syrup is one of my great discoveries over here in the UK. Quite similar to corn syrup from back home, but so much more flavourful, with a delicious caramel undertone. I could easily eat spoonfuls of this stuff, which I could never do with plain old corn syrup.
It's also the basis for the perfect British Pudding, which over here is another name for dessert . . . Treacle Sponge Pudding . . . a delicious steamed pudding crowned with glorious golden syrup, seeping down a soft rich sponge and soaking into it's surface and gilding it with luscious thick syrupy caramel goodness. This is the stuff that comfort is made of . . . this is the ultimate dessert of all my Enid Blyton inspired childhood dreams . . .
Dig out your scales for this one and don't forget the custard . . . lashings of it are a given!!!
*Treacle Syrup Sponge*
75g softened unsalted butter, plus a little extra for greasing
75g light-brown sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
100g self-raising flour
1 level tsp baking powder
For the sauce:
3tbsp Golden Syrup, plus extra to serve
4tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice
Butter a one-pint pudding basin. Beat the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl until they’re soft and light. Gradually add the beaten egg, sieve in the flour and baking powder and add the milk. Beat until it’s thoroughly blended, and you have a dropping consistency. Pour the mixture into the basin, making a nice level surface with the back of a spoon.
Line a sheet of foil with a sheet of greaseproof paper and fold to make a pleat in the centre this will allow for expansion as the pudding rises. Cover the basin with the foil and wrap it firmly around the rim. Then tie with a piece of string to secure it in place. (I actually use a rubber band. The post man is always leaving them behind and they come in very handy for all sorts!)
Stand the basin in a steamer or a pan of simmering water, put the lid on the pan and steam for 1½ hours, topping up with boiling water if necessary.
Combine the syrup and orange juice in a small pan and heat gently.
When the pudding’s cooked, remove it from the pan, unwrap it and ease the pudding away from the basin with a palette knife. Turn out onto a warmed plate and spoon over loads of golden syrup. Finally, pour the warm orange syrup over and serve.