The British know full well what to do when the weather reverts to its grim, wintery default: make puddings. From trifles and jam roly-poly to bread and butter pudding and spotted dick, this is the nation that delivers comfort, sweetness and warmth in cold, damp months. This dessert conceals a syrupy base, which offers a seductive sauce to mop up some of the golden cake. Naturally, it’s irresistible with proper English custard.






Skill level

Average: 3.1 (64 votes)


  • 125 g unsalted butter, plus extra, to grease
  • 60 ml (¼ cup) golden syrup, plus extra, to serve
  • 1 lemon, zested, juiced
  • 1 tbsp dried breadcrumbs
  • 110 g (½ cup firmly packed) light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 185 g (1¼ cups) self-raising flour
  • 60 ml (¼ cup) milk


English vanilla custard

  • 500 ml (2 cups) milk
  • 1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped or ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 55 g (¼ cup) caster sugar
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 tbsp cornflour

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


You will need a 1.25 litre pudding basin for this recipe.

Grease a 1.25 litre pudding basin with butter, then add golden syrup, lemon juice and breadcrumbs, mixing well to combine.

Place butter and lemon zest in the bowl of an electric mixer and gradually beat in sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Sift in flour with a pinch of salt, then, using a large metal spoon, fold until just combined. Add milk, folding until mixture reaches a dropping consistency.

Carefully spooon mixture over golden syrup mixture in prepared pudding basin. Cover with a lid or a sheet of greased baking paper and a sheet of foil, pleated together at the centre to give pudding room to rise. Secure with kitchen string.

Place a trivet, rack or small, upturned, heatproof plate in a large saucepan and stand pudding on top. Pour in enough water to come halfway up the side of pudding basin, then cover saucepan with a lid. Place over medium heat and simmer for 2 hours, topping up with boiling water if necessary.

To make custard, place milk and vanilla bean in a saucepan and bring almost to the boil. (If using vanilla extract, add after cooking custard.) Whisk together sugar, egg yolks and cornflour in a large bowl until pale. Remove vanilla bean, then whisking constantly, gradually add hot milk into egg yolk mixture, then whisk gently to combine. Transfer to a clean saucepan over low heat and stir constantly with a wooden spoon for 8 minutes or until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon; don’t boil mixture. (If using vanilla extract, add to custard now.) Pour into a jug and cover surface with plastic wrap. The custard will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Remove pudding from heat. Remove lid or baking paper and foil, and carefully run a metal spatula around pudding and turn out onto a plate. Serve immediately with custard.


Photography Chris Chen