Molten Butterscotch Cake (Steamed Treacle Pudding) & A Very British Afternoon

Jan 11, 2012

My best friend from high school, T, and I just met for the ultimate British sport:

Tea Brewing.

The fact that we and our families met in Central Mexico for this match is of little consequence.  After a ranch outing and horseback riding in ravines, milking goats at our friend’s farm (and eating the cheese from those goats), after churros and enchiladas and wrangling our many children, T and I sat down with, well, tea and the fighting began.

“Why did you put the milk in?”

“Don’t you take milk?”

“It won’t finish steeping if you put the milk in!”

“Why did you put sugar in mine, then?”

“Sugar isn’t milk.”

“Oh, really, I thought maybe it was.”

“Oh for God’s sake, just have some tea.”  Milk in first?  Tea in first (MIF or TIF as it were)?  Black tea or green? With sugar?  Honey? How long to steep it?  Did you warm the cup first?  Do you have a saucer for the top of the mug to prevent and heat escaping?

We grew up in London together which means we both have far too many opinions about tea.

So we switched to tequila.

Molten Butterscotch Cake

Steamed Treacle Pudding

Yes, two names for the same dessert. Treacle appears in Alice in Wonderland and, perhaps because of this, always seemed magical to me. Treacle can mean something cloying, sticky-sweet, or just deeply treacley in flavo(u)r. In American, it's really just molasses, which sounds mundane, especially if you taste this dish. Don't let the steaming part scare you! In the photo you can see the steamer I rigged up which works just fine. You can throw together the ingredients in 5 minutes and then nearly forget about the cake/pudding for an hour or so at which point it will be ready to eat.

3/4 cup flour (you may use whole wheat or all-purpose)

2 tsp baking powder

1 /2 tsp salt

3/4 cup dark brown sugar

6 tbsp butter, very soft

3 tbsp Lyle's Golden Syrup (check in British section of your market or at Whole Foods)

1 1/2 tbsp molasses (not blackstrap)

3 eggs

cream for top (optional, though not if you are British)

special equipment: glass or ceramic bowl for steaming, large pot into which the bowl fits, cover for the pot, parchment paper, foil, large rubber band or string

Set up your steamer. Fill the big pot about half way with water. Place a trivet or crumbled foil at the bottom (you don't want the bowl to be in direct contact with bottom of pot) and cover as you bring to boil. In a different bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, salt, and brown sugar together. Use a bit of the soft butter to coat well the inside of the glass/ceramic bowl in which you will steam the pudding. Add the rest of the butter to the flour mixture. Pour the Golden Syrup into the buttered steaming bowl. Add molasses to the flour mixture and then add eggs. Mix well. Pour batter on top of the Golden Syrup. To cook the pudding/cake: cover the glass bowl with parchment paper and foil (spray the foil just in case). If the bowl is small, make a pleat in the foil in case the pudding expands. Secure with rubberband or string. Carefully place the bowl into the hot water. Cover and steam for 1 hr 20 min. Check a couple of times to make sure there's enough water. Add BOILING water (to keep water level about midway up side of bowl) as needed. To serve, remove from pot, carefully remove foil cover, and invert on platter. Pour cream on top as desired. Serve to old friends with coffee. Or tea, if you dare.