I love a classic treacle sponge pudding, it’s cozy and comforting year-round!
It reminds me of school dinners back in the days when you could load up on sugar as a viable lunch choice.
This black treacle pudding uses dark treacle and golden syrup to give you a delicious mixture of sweet syrupy goodness topped on a soft and moist brown sugar sponge.
This warm dessert is the perfect quick and easy pudding for after a mid-week dinner or go old-school and enjoy after a Sunday roast.
✏️ Making a tasty and easy recipe
Traditionally, a treacle sponge pudding is steamed. I’ve tried this before, but I wanted to make a recipe that was a bit easier and quicker to make, while still tasting delicious. So I thought I’d try baking it the next time and it worked a treat!
I much prefer the ease of baking a treacle pudding in the oven. There’s no faffing with a traditional pudding basin, circle of parchment paper, upturned saucer and kitchen string or worrying about whether the water level is high enough in your large saucepan or needs topping up as it simmers away.
Instead, I add a layer of tin foil over the top of the pan to help keep the moisture in as the treacle sponge bakes in about a quarter of the time it takes to steam. I find that it also partially steams your pudding the easy way, the steam from cooking pudding trapped in by the sheet of foil.
I always used to get confused between a treacle pudding and sticky toffee pudding. They’re actually really similar, but a classic sticky toffee pudding has dates in it. Other than this, they look and taste very similar. I’m obsessed with both, but I love how easy this treacle sponge pudding is to make!
🥘 Ingredients notes
- As with many of my baking recipes, I recommend starting with room temperature ingredients before starting to make your treacle sponge. This will improve the consistency and ease at which your ingredients will mix together.
- Always sieve your flour and baking powder. I used to be a bit lazy and skip this part, but it really makes such a difference to get you a lump-free sponge cake batter.
- When measuring your ingredients, I always recommend using weights rather than cups where possible for greater accuracy. This is especially important for the amount of flour.
- Using good quality ingredients helps your pudding to taste great! I love Lyle's golden syrup and black treacle for this recipe.
- You can also make your own homemade golden syrup to use.
- I prefer to use vanilla extract rather than vanilla essence, as it has a better stronger flavour. It’s a purer vanilla taste as it’s less processed than vanilla essence.
I like to use fresh lemon zest and lemon juice for this recipe.
Be sure to use unwaxed lemons for the zest. You can use a microplaner, citrus zester or the fine holes of a cheese grater to zest a fresh lemon.
I’d definitely recommend juicing your lemon after zesting it. The best way to juice a lemon is to first cut it in half, through the middle rather than tip to tip. You can then use a fork to press into the juicy fruit part and twist the fork while you squeeze the lemon half. Do this over a strainer to catch any pips / seeds.
You can also juice your lemon halves using a citrus squeezer or juicer if you have one.
🔪 Equipment notes
- I like to use digital scales for weighing my ingredients as it's easier and more accurate than other scales. I'm a fan of the KitchenAid or Salter ones.
- It’s good to use measuring spoons for your teaspoon and tablespoon amounts, as your standard teaspoon and tablespoon that you use to eat with won't be the correct volume. Make sure you level off any heaped scoops before adding the ingredient to your mix.
- If you're planning to use a stand mixer, I would recommend using the paddle attachment to make your treacle cake batter. You can also get great results using a hand mixer if you don't have a stand mixer.
- If using, I'd also recommend that you scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl of an electric mixer to ensure a more even mix. Also, I usually use a low speed on the stand mixer for this cake batter.
- You can also get great results by using a medium bowl and hand mixer or even by hand using a wooden spoon or a fork if you don’t have an electric mixer.
- For this baked treacle sponge, I usually use a standard 8inch (20cm) square cake tin, like the ones I use for brownies and traybakes. However, you can also use a litre pudding basin to bake your treacle sponge instead and increase the cooking time by 5-10mins if you’re after the classic pudding shape.
- Alternatively, you can use a 1-litre baking dish instead if that’s what you have on hand.
- I recommend that you do lightly grease your cake tin or pudding dish, but unlike with most cakes, you don’t need to then line it with greaseproof paper as well. The syrup layer on the bottom and buttery moist sponge usually help it to come out from the cake pan nice and easily.
Your treacle sponge should last for up to 3 days stored in an airtight container at room temperature.
I sometimes store mine in the baking tin with the foil lid kept on, but I’ve found this doesn’t always last as long as when it’s in a properly sealed container.
Alternatively, if it’s hot where you live, I’d recommend keeping your pudding in the fridge instead.
See serving suggestions below for tips on reheating your pudding, or enjoy it cold (I won’t judge!).
If you want to make this pudding to freeze it, allow it to cool fully after baking so that the syrup has been absorbed by the sponge. You can then cut it up into pieces and wrap it in two layers of plastic wrap / cling film and then a layer of foil. This should keep for up to 3 months frozen.
A top tip is to write on the foil what’s inside it and the date you froze it so you know how long it’s been in there. I always forget otherwise!
Defrost your pudding slices before you reheat them. I’d recommend adding more golden syrup or light treacle over the top of your pudding when you serve it reheated after freezing, as it might have dried out slightly.
💭 Top tips for success
In this recipe, you add the cake sponge batter on top of the syrup in your baking dish / cake pan. This can be a bit tricky to get a smooth layer without the syrup being pushed through gaps to the top. Take it slow and add your cake mix a spoonful at a time and spread it gently with a palette knife, offset spatula or butter knife.
Your sponge batter should be a smooth, dropping consistency. If yours is too thick, try adding an extra tablespoon of milk. This should loosen up the batter and ensure you have a nice moist sponge!
When making sponge cakes with raising agents (i.e. using self-raising flour, baking powder, etc.) such as this treacle pudding cake, try to not over-mix your cake batter. Over-mixing causes your sponge to be more dense.
You’ll know your pudding is cooked once it's risen, golden on top and an inserted toothpick or skewer comes out clean from the center of your cake.
If you’ve got any specific questions on making your black treacle sponge pudding, please feel free to leave a comment below and I’ll try my best to help out!
🍯 Serving suggestions
This treacle sponge cake is best served fresh and hot from the oven. Simply pour double cream or custard (hot or cold) over your slice of cake and enjoy!
I’d recommend making your own custard, it’s delicious and so much simpler than I thought it would be. I love this easy custard by Charlotte's Lively Kitchen.
Alternatively, a big scoop of ice cream, such as vanilla or clotted cream flavour, would go great on your hot pudding. I love when it melts slightly on top, soaking your sponge in even more goodness!
If you’ve made your treacle pudding in advance, you can reheat it in the microwave. I find it takes roughly 30secs to reheat a single slice.
I also enjoy adding a few extra tablespoons of golden syrup on top when serving up! If you love the rich flavour of black treacle, add your extra golden syrup mixed with half the amount of black treacle and drizzle it over your hot pudding when serving up.
♻️ Alternatives and substitutions
This recipe uses light soft brown sugar. However, if you don’t have any you can instead use demerara sugar, caster sugar or granulated sugar instead.
For a tasty flavour twist, why not try adding ½ teaspoon of ground ginger? The treacle sweetness pairs perfectly with the depth of flavour added by the ginger and the hint of lemon!
Alternatively, you can swap the lemon zest and juice for ½ an orange’s zest and juice if you’d prefer. Personally, I love how the sharpness of the lemon cuts through some of the golden syrup sweetness. That citrusy hint balances it out so nicely!
You can swap the 1 ½ teaspoon of baking powder for ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda instead.
This recipe calls for black treacle as well golden syrup, but if you don’t have access to these, you can swap them for another dark syrup and light syrup respectively.
For the light syrup, you can try swapping the golden syrup for maple syrup, light corn syrup or light treacle. Note that this will change the flavour of your pudding, but still be tasty!
Check out this blog post for more information on golden syrup substitutes!
For the dark syrup, you can try swapping the black treacle for molasses, such as blackstrap molasses. Again, this will alter the flavor slightly.
Self-raising flour option:
I usually use plain (all-purpose) flour in this pudding recipe, but alternatively, you can swap this for self-raising flour. Use the same quantity of flour (i.e. 115g) and exclude the baking powder completely.
For a gluten-free alternative, you can swap the plain / all-purpose flour in this recipe for a gluten-free plain flour blend of the same quantity.
The other ingredients in this baked treacle pudding recipe should be gluten-free, but please be sure to check the label on your ingredients just in case!
A top tip when baking a gluten-free sponge cake is to beat your cake batter thoroughly. Also, leave the batter to stand for 30mins before pouring it into your prepared cake pan and baking it. Both of these steps will help improve the texture of your sponge.
🧁 Other goodies
So, I definitely recommend that you whip up a tasty warm treacle sponge pudding! But as an avid home baker, I’m sure you’re asking yourself “what next?”.
Well, if you love all things sweet and syrupy, why not check out my maple pecan pie bars? Or for a boozy sauce to drizzle over your treacle pudding, check out this recipe for salted rum dulce de leche.
Big cake fan? Me too! If cake is one of your favorite desserts, why not try some of my other great cakes such as this Lotus biscoff drip cake or the super simple lemon white chocolate cake – they’re super tasty!
You can also check out this collection of the best warm desserts!
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Oven-Baked Treacle Sponge Pudding
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- 120 g (4 tablespoon) golden syrup
- 60 g (2 tablespoon) black treacle
- ½ lemon’s zest and juice
- 115 g (½ cups) unsalted butter (room temp.)
- 115 g (½ cups) light brown soft sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 115 g (1 cups) plain / all-purpose flour (see notes for self-raising flour swap)
- 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 2 tablespoon milk (semi-skimmed or whole)
- Preheat oven: 180°C / 160°C (fan) / Gas Mark 4 / 350°F
- In a mixing bowl, stir together the treacle, syrup, zest and lemon juice until smooth, then pour this into the base of a greased 8-inch square baking tin.
- In a separate bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth.
- Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until fully combined.
- Sieve in the flour and baking powder, gently folding this until the mixture until just combined.
- Stir in the milk until smooth and then spoon the batter over the syrup in the pan and smooth gently until evenly spread across the syrup layer.
- Cover the tin with a layer of foil and bake for 40-45mins until the sponge is risen and a skewer comes out clean from the middle.
- You can swap the plain / all-purpose flour in this recipe for self-raising flour of the same quantity and exclude the baking powder instead.
Nutritional information is an estimate based on an online nutritional calculator, actual values may vary.
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