Ard Daraich Sponge Pudding

For the second Belleau Kitchen random recipe challenge in a row I have a very traditional sort of British pudding to offer. I'm not always convinced about this kind of dish, but I have to admit that this one is truly delicious (in an old-fashioned sort of way), as well as deeply comforting. I suspect it could even be dangerously addictive.

I've gone back to a book that I've talked about before - The Constance Spry Cookery Book, published in the fifties but given to me fairly recently by my father-in-law. (The book is actually by Constance Spry and Rosemary Hume and the latter was the real, Paris-trained cook.)

I'm very happy to revisit this book; it's a gloriously odd relic of the genteel days of country houses and luncheon baskets on trains. But the book also has a huge number of good recipes that owe nothing to fashion. In fact there are some recipes in here which in recent years have turned up with very few changes in books by celebrity chefs.

Ard Daraich Sponge Pudding
Anyway, choosing at random, I came up with Ard Daraich Sponge Pudding. This is a sort of layered castle pudding with a very sweet, lemony sauce. Having played around with this recipe I must confess that I've adapted it a little and I've also translated it from 1950's English – you wouldn't want me to give measurements in gills, after all.

Ard Daraich, by the way, was Constance Spry’s holiday home on the shores of Loch Linnhe with views over to Ben Nevis. The house is now a Bed and Breakfast it would appear.
Constance Spry Cookbook
For the sponge:
     90 g caster sugar
     90 g butter, softened, plus some more for the tins
     3 eggs
     120 g self-raising flour, sifted
     70 ml milk
For the sauce:
     60 g butter
     60 g caster sugar
     40 ml golden syrup
     40 ml water
     Juice of ½ lemon

Preheat the oven to 190°C. Butter three 18 cm sandwich tins. (If you don't have three tins, then cooking in more than one batch should work just fine).

Cream the butter, add the sugar and cream the two together thoroughly. (A stand mixer or passing servant would make this job easier). Beat in the eggs one at a time. Stir in the flour and, finally, the milk.

Split the mixture between the tins and bake for around 12 –15 minutes. When cooked the sponges should be lightly browned on top and a knife point should come out clean. Take care to avoid overcooking them or they'll be too dry. They won't rise much, but that’s as it should be. Remove from the tins and leave to cool.

Make the sauce by melting the butter in a small saucepan with the sugar, stirring a lot to combine them fully. Add the syrup, water and lemon juice and boil the sauce for 5 minutes. (This sauce is very adaptable and you could increase the amount of lemon juice, add lemon zest or add some liqueur of your choice.)

The original recipe calls for the sponges to be kept whole, but I felt I was in danger of eating the entire pudding, so I cut out some shapes for smaller, more restrained puddings. Either way, a sponge should be placed browned side up on a dish and a portion of the hot sauce should be poured over. Top with another sponge and repeat the sauce. Finally do the same with the third layer. If there's an inadequate puddle of sauce around the sponge tower, then add some more.
Ard Daraich Sponge Pudding


  1. oh I LOVE that cook book, so pretty in pink!... i've never heard of these layered cakes before but i'm LOVING them!!!... thanks so much for taking part and being so thoroughly traditionally British!

  2. Oh my gosh that sounds and looks so good I'm drooling!

  3. It does look absolutely amazing. Puddings like that really float my boat!

  4. Ooooh that sponge cake looks lovely and moist and delicious!!! :) Fabulous post Phil!

  5. Thanks for the kind thoughts, people. Strange that it takes a random recipe challenge to get me to cook traditional British puddings - I should be ashamed of myself.

  6. It looks gorgeous Phil! Like the perfect comforting rainy day pudding. I am going to try and make it, but I have to go out and buy another baking dish first :-)

    That said, I tried out your pork apicius (spelling?) the other day and it was stunning!!! Its my new dinner party dish! Thank you!

  7. Thanks Michelle. I've been playing around with some other bits and pieces based on the Apicius writings, so maybe one day I'll post one of them - when and if I get the dish right.

  8. that's brilliant! I can't believe you made that from a cookbook written in 1950s english. haha.


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