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Steamed Jam Sponge Pudding Recipe

Foodstuff is a freelance food writer and published author who has been exploring various recipes.

Steamed Sour Cherry Chocolate Pudding with Chocolate Sauce. Image: © Siu Ling Hui

Steamed Sour Cherry Chocolate Pudding with Chocolate Sauce. Image: © Siu Ling Hui

A steamed-jam sponge pudding is one of the ultimate comfort foods. A joy to behold and to eat, this hot, light, buttery sponge with a dense, fruity jam "cap" is the perfect finish to a hearty winter roast or casserole. It's homely, yet elegant enough to serve for a dinner party.

It's easy to make, and in fact, you can make it well in advance and freeze it. The secret to achieving a truly glorious rendition of this simple dessert is the quality of the butter, eggs, and jam.

The basic proportions for the sponge pudding are as follows:

  • Weigh your eggs. Use the same weight of butter, self-raising flour, and caster sugar. Add 1 tablespoon of milk for each egg.
  • Add the jam of your choice to a depth of about 2 to 2.5 cm at the bottom of the pudding bowl before pouring the sponge batter in.

From this basic recipe, you can create an endless number of variations by the choice of jam, by adding dried or candied fruit that mirrors the jam. For example, if you are using thick-cut orange marmalade, you could add chopped candied orange peel to the batter. You could also vary the choice of sauce to serve with the pudding.

Here are two recipes to get you started.

Steamed Cumquat Marmalade Sponge Pudding


  • 2 eggs (let's say the weight is 133g)
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 133g butter, at room temperature
  • 133g caster sugar
  • 133g self-raising flour, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Extra butter to grease the pudding bowl
  • Cumquat marmalade to line bowl


  1. Using a mixer at medium speed, cream the butter with caster sugar until the mixture is pale, light and fluffy. The sugar should be completely dissolved, ie., there is no graininess in the texture.
  2. Beat in about a tablespoon of the flour into the butter mixture.
  3. Beat the eggs with the milk.
  4. Add a few tablespoons of the egg and milk mixture to the butter mixture, beating continuously until the egg is fully incorporated into the butter before adding another few tablespoons. If you add the egg mixture too quickly, your batter will curdle. Repeat until all the egg is added.
  5. Beat in the vanilla extract.
  6. Using a spatula, gently fold in the sifted self-raising flour.
  7. Grease a 800ml pudding bowl with softened butter. Put a few dollops of cumquat marmalade into the bottom of the bowl. The marmalade should be about 2-2.5cm deep.
  8. Pour the sponge batter into the bowl. Don't fill it right up to the top. Leave about 1 cm space from the top of the bowl.
  9. Get your steamer ready. The water must be at a rapid boil when the pudding goes in.
  10. Cut a sheet of greaseproof paper and a sheet of foil into a large circle, sufficient to cover and overlap the sides of the pudding bowl. Butter the greaseproof paper. Place the greaseproof paper, butter-side down, over the pudding bowl and then place the foil on top. Both the paper and the foil should have enough slack over the top of the bowl to allow for the pudding to rise.
  11. Tie kitchen string to very tightly just under the lip of the pudding bowl to ensure that the pudding mixture is tightly sealed and no water gets in.
  12. Steam the pudding for 1 ½ to 1 ¾ hours. Check occasionally to ensure that there is enough water in the steamer. If it starts to get dry, top up with boiling water.
  13. Unmould the pudding onto a plate. Serve hot with warm custard sauce. I also serve a bowl of brandied cumquats as an optional extra to accompany this pudding.

Custard Sauce:

  • 500ml full cream milk
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 125g caster sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
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  1. Bring the milk to a simmer in a saucepan. Meanwhile, whisk the yolks and caster sugar until it's thick, pale and forms a ribbon.
  2. With the mixer running at low speed, add the simmering milk to the egg and sugar mixture. Increase the speed and continue to whisk for a few minutes.
  3. Wash out the pan. Return the custard mixture to the pan. Cook over low to moderate heat, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon. Be very careful not the let the mixture get to a boil (or even simmer) or you will end up with scrambled eggs.
  4. Strain the custard through a fine sieve into a clean bowl. Stir in the vanilla extract. Set the bowl over ice water and keep stirring until the mixture is cool. This prevents a skin forming on the top of the custard.
  5. If you've made this ahead of serving, warm the custard over low heat in a saucepan, stirring continuously.

Steamed Sour Cherry Chocolate Version

This is what I call my "Black Forest Pudding" because it has the key elements of the classic Black Forest Cake.


  • 2 eggs (let's say the weight is 133g)
  • 2 tbp milk
  • 133g butter, at room temperature
  • 133g caster sugar
  • 100g self-raising flour
  • 33g natural cocoa*see note
  • Approx. ¼ teaspoon baking powder*see note
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Extra butter to grease the pudding bowl
  • Sour Cherry Jam

*Note: What I've done here is substitute about 25% of the flour weight with cocoa. Baking powder is added to compensate for the lack of leavening in cocoa. If you are expanding the recipe, the rule of thumb for adding baking powder is 1 teaspoon (5g) for every 125g of cocoa.

Most of the cocoa you get in the supermarkets is Dutch-processed or alkalised cocoa. You can use this but it's preferable to use natural cocoa. The alkalinity of the cocoa can impact the rising capacity of the mixture.

DO NOT use baking soda if you are using Dutch-processed cocoa as this cocoa will neutralise the baking soda and you will lose the leavening effect.

The procedure is exactly the same as for the cumquat marmalade pudding. The only difference is that you should sift the cocoa, flour and baking powder together.

Serve this pudding hot with a warm chocolate sauce.

Chocolate Sauce:
This is a truly decadent chocolate sauce. Use top quality dark chocolate or coverture, with 60 - 70% or more cocoa solids.

  • 200g dark chocolate
  • 150 ml full cream milk
  • 2 tablespoons double cream
  • 30g caster sugar
  • 30g cold butter, cut into small pieces


  1. Melt the chocolate in a bowl set over simmering water. Stir from time to time to ensure it is melting evenly. Remove from heat.
  2. Combine milk, double cream and sugar in a saucepan. Bring to the boil over moderate heat, stirring continuously.
  3. Pour the milk mixture over the hot melted chocolate, stirring continuously until well combined.
  4. Return the chocolate sauce to the pan over moderate heat and bring it to a simmer. Allow to simmer for about 15 seconds and then remove from the heat.
  5. Whisk in the cold butter pieces. Strain though a fine sieve into a clean bowl. Serve warm.
  6. You can keep this sauce for several days in the fridge, covered with cling film. Reheat in a saucepan over low heat. Do not let come to a boil.
Quince, Orange And Cardamom Jam. Image: © Siu Ling Hui

Quince, Orange And Cardamom Jam. Image: © Siu Ling Hui

Quince, Orange, and Cardamom Jam Pudding

I have also made quince, orange, and cardamom jam variations of the master recipe. To reinforce the sweet scent of cardamom in the pudding, add 1 teaspoon of ground cardamom to the flour before folding it into the pudding mixture.

It's lovely with an orange-scented custard. Just add some orange zest to the milk when preparing the custard. Strain the milk into the egg yolk and sugar mixture and cook as usual.

Serve with poached quinces together with some of the poaching syrup and custard.

Questions & Answers

Question: Could I make the pudding today, but steam it tomorrow?

Answer: No. Steam pudding right after you make it. The reason is that the leavening agents (baking soda, baking powder) in the self-raising flour will have run out of fizz (literally!) if you leave it to stand for too long. It's the same reason that you don't leave cake batter to stand overnight before you bake it.

It's better to make it ahead of time and reheat it when required. Note that this pudding freezes really well too.

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