May Byron, 1915
The pudding cake is, to my perception, a genre of puddings that has all but disappeared from our tables, despite being popular since the 18th century. It describes something that, when cold, would be recognisable as a cake, but here it is served, warm and comforting, straight from the oven. As with the Fruit Sponge, it’s the hugely enjoyable lure of warm sponge with cream or custard that is the main draw.
The flavourings for this recipe are only limited by your imagination – you can use any combination of fruit/nuts/candied peel that takes your fancy. For this base recipe I have opted for the unjustly unglamorous prune for the wonderfully rich dark, almost toffee flavour the fruit develops during cooking.
250g prunes, stones removed
250ml apple juice
100g chopped nuts or flaked almonds
3 large eggs
200ml milk, plus extra if needed
100g butter, melted
2tsp baking powder
350g plain flour
Double cream or custard to serve.
- Quarter the prunes and put them in a small pan. Pour over the fruit juice and put over medium heat.
- When the mixture boils, cover and turn off the heat and leave to stew for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas 4.
- Grease and line a 24cm, springform tin with parchment paper.
- Drain the prunes.
- Put the eggs, milk, butter, sugar baking powder and flour into a bowl and mix thoroughly until it comes together into a smooth cake batter. If it seems a little heavy, mix in some additional milk until it achieves a dropping consistency and falls easily from the spoon.
- Spoon a quarter of the batter into the prepared tin and scatter half of the soaked prunes over.
- Add another layer of cake batter and sprinkle over the nuts.
- Spoon in half the remaining batter and sprinkle the rest of the prunes.
- Pour the rest of the batter into the tin and smooth over.
- Bake for 40-50 minutes, until the cake is risen and golden.
- Allow to cool in the tin for ten minutes before removing and transferring to a warmed serving dish or plate.
- Serve in wedges with double cream or custard poured over.