RedHeadedGirl’s Historical Kitchen: Golden Syrup Steamed Sponge

When I was in London last fall, I had dinner at Rules Restaurant, in Covent Garden. Rules claims to the be the “Oldest Restaurant in London” (established in 1798) and that might be true, depending on how you’re defining terms like “oldest” and “restaurant” and probably “London.” The decor is very Edwardian, and several scenes from the later seasons of Downton Abbey were shot there. The food is focused on “classic game cookery.” I had pheasant, which was delicious.

(Hilariously, after I ate the pheasant breasts with my knife and fork like a goddamn lady, I poked the legs with my knife, and then shrugged, picked up the leg to delicately nibble it from the bone, and then the waiter swooped in immediately with a finger bowl of water with lemons in it to rinse my hands when I was done. Like, he was WAITING for me to use my hands. Either I did the right thing, or he pegged me as an American barbarian. I’m good with either interpretation.)

The golden syrup sponge from Rules, in London. I think about this dessert a lot. A gold sponge cylinder on a plate with a gold yellow syrup around it on the plate

Anyway, for dessert I had a golden syrup steamed sponge, which was AMAZING and I immediately wanted five more. I’ve thought about that sponge at least once a week since October.

I also brought home some Golden Syrup (yeah, I know you can get it in the U.S., but THAT WAS NOT THE POINT).

And I have a pudding basin!

I could stop just wistfully thinking about the sponge and MAKE THE SPONGE and then HAVE THE SPONGE and ultimately EAT THE SPONGE.

Ingredients! Golden Syrup, flour, brown sugar, milk, eggs, and butter.

Reader, I ate the sponge. (Sponge no longer looks like a word.)

I used Lyle’s Golden Syrup Steamed Sponge recipe. My circa 1920 Mrs. Beeton has a recipe for Sponge Pudding that is quite similar, but uses suet instead of water and calls for baking soda instead of relying on the self-rising flour.

The first thing I had to do was make my all-purpose flour into self-rising. The way to do that is add some baking powder and salt.

Golden Syrup is a product of the sugar refining process. It’s kiiiiiiiiiinda like corn syrup in the US, only it’s made from actual sugar and not government subsidies. It’s very thick, and has a slightly caramel-y, nutty flavor.

The first thing you do is butter your pudding basin, then put two ounces of the syrup in the bottom.

Golden syrup in the bottom of the pudding basin, which has been buttered to within an inch of its life.

Then you cream two more ounces of syrup, the butter, and the brown sugar until it is light and fluffy, and add the eggs and flour and milk until it’s cake-batter like.

Drippy beautiful golden batter!

It’s delicious and I almost just ate that for dinner.  Almost.

Anyway, the difficult (it’s not that difficult, it’s just fiddly) part is prepping the basin for steaming.

First, the batter goes in:

Batter in the pudding basin, about half full.

Then you cover it with parchment paper and foil, but you put a pleat in the parchment and foil to allow for expansion of the sponge. Then you tie down the covering, and make a little handle so you can pull the basin out of the boiling water without scalding your hands off.

The pudding basic covered in foil and trussed up kinda like a goose.

Then it goes in a pot of boiling water, with enough water to go halfway up the basin. I used my canning pot, because…well, it’s pretty much made for that purpose.

the pudding basin in the steaming pot.

The recipe said to steam it for an hour and a half. I think I went an hour and forty minutes and that was…about ten minutes too long.

Finished sponge still in the basin, risen all the way to the top of the bowl.

See, the top third or so is just a touch overdone.

the finished product! It's not as pretty as the professionally made on at Rules, but it was SO YUMMEH

Seriously, it’s so good.

It would be better if I made a custard sauce to go with it, but I didn’t have the patience to make it. It also makes for an excellent breakfast.


Ever make sponge at home? Or do you have other interesting purposes for golden syrup? Do tell! 

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