Saturday, 18 October 2014

Cabinet Pudding

I regularly bake celebration cakes for neighbours, friends and family and over the years have made many birthday, wedding, christening and first holy communion cakes. This is something that I enjoy doing when I get the opportunity. Sometimes, when I have a particularly big or elaborate cake to make, it can really feel that I am being engulfed by flour, eggs, sugar and sugarpaste.

Although I make a whole range of cakes including chocolate, lemon, carrot etc., the one that seems to be the most popular is based on my basic madeira cake. This I bake in the relevant sized tin; I then split and fill it and trim it so that everything is level before I start decorating.

This inevitable means that I often have cake offcuts left over and rather than thrown these out, I try to use them up in other recipes.

One of these is a traditional steamed pudding called cabinet pudding. This is made up of small cubes of leftover or stale cake, glacé or other dried fruits and an egg custard. The cake is allowed to soak in the egg custard for an hour , the dried fruit is added and then the pudding is steamed for 75 minutes. What emerges is a sweet pudding which is not at all stodgy and is surprisingly light.
Here I have made the pudding using glacé cherries only, but you can add in a handful of sultanas, chopped angelica or whatever dried fruits you fancy. I have often though a tropical using some canned pineapple chunks along with some added desiccated coconut would be nice… but the recipe that I give here is based on the more traditional versions of the pudding.

Serve this in wedges with a little pouring custard or softly whipped cream on the side.


25g butter for greasing the pudding bowl
75g glacé cherries, halved
275g sponge/madeira cake
75g crushed amaretti biscuits (the hard kind)
500ml cream
3 medium eggs
25g caster sugar
2tblsp Amaretto


1. Grease a 1 litre pudding bowl with the butter and then line the base of the pudding bowl with a little circle of non-stick baking parchment.
2. Embed some of the cherries (cut-side to the edge of the bowl) in the buttered sides of the bowl.
3. Cut some of the cake into strips and use to line the pudding basin. Cut the remaining cake into 2-3cm chunks and place in the basin with the remaining cherries and crumbled amaretti, making sure that they are well distributed.
4. Heat the cream in a small saucepan and whilst it is heating beat the eggs and sugar together in a mixing bowl. When the milk is almost at boiling point, pour it in a steady stream onto the egg mixture, gently beating all the time. Add the Amaretto and then strain this mixture, through a sieve onto the cake chunks in the pudding basin. Set aside to soak for 60 minutes.
5. Cover the pudding with a sheet of baking paper pleated in the centre. Secure the paper in place by tying with string around the outer lip of the basin. Steam in a steamer for 75 minutes following the manufacturer’s instruction or alternatively, place the basin in a large saucepan with boiling water coming halfway up the sides. Place the lid on the saucepan, and reduce the heat so that the water is gently simmering away. Check every 20 minutes and add some more boiling water if needed to maintain the water levels.
6. When the time is up, remove from the steamer saucepan and allow to sit for 10 minutes before turning out onto a serving plate.
Serves 6-8.