Old-fashioned English Pudding with Hard Sauce

steamed pudding on plate

Steamed puddings are a traditional holiday food which once were slow-cooked on a wood or coal stove that was used for both heating and cooking. They are less popular now that our stoves aren’t constantly operating; but there are some wonderful hundred-year-old steamed pudding recipes that worth the time. For example, English Pudding is a tasty dessert favored with cloves and other cozy spices. It is delightful  when served warm with Hard Sauce.

Here are the original recipes:

Recipe for English Pudding
Source: Recipes for Everyday by Janet McKenzie Hill (1919)
recipe for hard sauce
The Old Reliable Farm and Home Cook Book (1919)

I anticipated that the Hard Sauce would be extremely thick, but smooth; however, when I followed the recipe the Hard Sauce it was so dry that it clumped somewhat. It was tasty – but just did not look quite right. I think that additional butter or water may be needed. This is the second time that I’ve made Hard Sauce using hundred year old recipes – and it did not turn out quite as I expected either time. Maybe Hard Sauce had a different consistency a hundred years ago than what it does now. 

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

English Pudding with Hard Sauce

  • Servings: 7 - 9
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

English Pudding
1/4 cup shortening

1/2 cup molasses

1/2 cup milk

2 cups flour

1/2 baking soda

1/4 ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon mace

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup raisins

Put shortening, molasses, milk, flour, baking soda, ground cloves, mace, and salt in a mixing bowl; beat until smooth. Stir in raisins.  

Put the mixture in a greased steamed pudding mold*, and steam for 3 hours. Remove from mold and serve warm with Hard Sauce. (This pudding is also excellent cold without the Hard Sauce.)

*Notes: I used a 2-liter mold, but had some extra space at the top and a smaller mold could be used. BBC Good Food has an excellent video that succinctly describes how to steam a pudding (or follow the directions that come with the mold).

Hard Sauce

1 cup sugar

1/4 butter

1/4 teaspoon lemon extract

3/4 teaspoon vanilla

Cream the butter, then slowly add the sugar while stirring constantly. While continuing to stir, add the lemon extract and vanilla.

Note: To make a smoother hard sauce, additional butter or water may need to be added.

38 thoughts on “Old-fashioned English Pudding with Hard Sauce

  1. Interesting that my recipe (and several I found) use powdered sugar rather than granulated. Now I’m wondering if powdered sugar wasn’t available a hundred years ago, and if that’s what affects the texture.

  2. Many years ago this pudding was on the menu of a special holiday dinner at the Eagle Tavern in Greenfield Village, Dearborn, Michigan. The whole meal was very heavy depicting early American cooking – they worked hard so hearty meals were always in order. A fun experience!

      1. I KNOW BUTTER!!!! LOL Raised by Dairy Farmers born in the late 1880’s, you made your butter AT HOME….from YOUR cows….with a GIANT glass butter paddle churn. Local farmers would sell it in town to the general store. NO ONE bought butter where I grew up, nor buttermilk, raw milk, or cream, as every.single.person. knew a dairy farmer, WAS a dairy farmer, or bought from a dairy farmer.

        It was just pure cream and a dash of salt. Grandma and I would make it, store it in large wooden tubs made from Mulberry Wood and keep it cool in the Root Cellar.

        I suspect this is why some people, myself, included, pay a premium for imported butters from Ireland and Lithuania. It’s rich, fatty, and bakes superbly.

  3. I’m English and this recipe is utterly unfamiliar to me. Well, steamed puddings are very old-school English of course, but molasses not so much. I’d never heard of hard sauce either, and reading the ingredients didn’t help. Maybe it’s one of those things that got just a bit ‘lost in translation’.

    1. It’s fascinating how this dessert apparently morphed into some very different on this side of the Atlantic. As you said, it’s probably one of those things that got just a bit lost in the translation.

  4. When we lived in England, our neighbor gave me her Christmas pudding recipe. We’ve had it every year since 1982. In a few days I’ll stream the pudding for this year and let it age in the refrigerator until the 25th. I add enough liquid to the hard sauce to make it flow.

    Your pudding looks great. Did you like it?

  5. My husband and I are massive fans of steamed puddings! I have an authentic British Pudding Steamer that I picked up when we were visiting his family in Scotland. It’s over 48 years old and used often, as soon as the weather turns brisk! Both of us are extremely familiar with Hard Sauce; we’d put Port or Sherry in ours. For tea teetotalers, we’d always have a can of Bird’s English Custard or Lemon Curd to top the pudding with. Our favourite is an ancient one: Indian Pudding, made with suet/lard, cornmeal, and molasses (plus other bits & pieces.) SO tasty!

      1. Your comment reminds me of a time when I lived in a house with an wood-burning stove. We used it mainly for heat, but I had so much fun cooking and baking with it. And lid toast!

  6. My girlfriend made a steamed pudding with hard sauce which I very much liked. Her hard sauce was smooth and creamy but her recipe wasn’t 100 years old. 😊

    1. I hate to say it, but I may need to use a more modern hard sauce recipe the next time I make a steamed pudding. Something (either tastes or ingredient characteristics) has changed over the past hundred years.

    1. If you happen to decide to make this recipe, I think that you’d like it. I enjoyed reading the post on your blog about cooking methods and speeds across the years, and the accompanying photos were wonderful.

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