Cabinet pudding has so many names, but this version is a combination of crystallised fruits covered with a sponge mixture that is steamed until light and fluffy.
It's easy and economical to make and makes a great alternative to Christmas pudding too.
One of the joys of cooking for me is finding the history of a dish, even if I can't find the original recipe.
After all, food is rather like music and language, in that it is constantly changing, due to interpretation, ingredients and innovation.
I have to say that I have only recently discovered cabinet pudding and all its guises, and this is my version, brought up to date with modern ingredients.
My first thought is that this would make a great alternative to Christmas pudding, as it looks festive with the different colours, but is also much more budget friendly, as the ingredients are far less. Of course, so many people dislike Christmas pudding due to the sheer amount of dried fruit, so for me it would be a delicious compromise.
❤️ Why you will love this recipe
- Easy to make.
- Budget friendly ingredients.
- Great alternative to Christmas pudding.
- Store cupboard ingredients.
This pudding appears to come from French origins, when it was known as pouding a la chanceliere. It is more regularly known as diplomat pudding, a pudding made with crystallised fruits and ladyfingers or boudoir biscuits all baked with a rich bavarois custard.
No one can say with certainty, however, the political reference may relate to a conference in 1808, where this pudding may have been served.
As with all recipes, it has migrated around Europe and became known in the British Isles as cabinet pudding, Newcastle pudding and chancellors pudding.
The British version made great use of stale bread or stale cake or a sponge and a more standard custard. Perhaps this is the origin of the bread and butter pudding that is still so popular today?
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- Butter - I've used salted butter, but you could use unsalted and add a pinch of salt. The butter should be soft at room temperature.
- Flour - self raising flour or make your own by using the ratio of 2 teaspoons of baking powder to every 1 cup / 150g / 6 oz of plain flour.
- Mixed peel - known as candied peel is typically a mix of citrus peel. I've opted for peel as cherries may sink in this sponge mix. You could use chopped cherries if you prefer.
- Cherries - glace cherries, also known as candied cherries. I used the multicoloured ones as they look like jewels in the steamed pudding.
- Sugar - caster sugar, also known as superfine or castor.
- Vanilla extract - rather than essence for flavour.
- Eggs - medium free range eggs at room temperature.
The recipe card with ingredient quantities and detailed instructions can be found at the bottom of the post.
- 1.14 litre pudding basin - 2 pints
- wooden spoon
- mixing bowl
- large saucepan - with lid
- kitchen string
- baking parchment - or aluminium foil
- pastry brush
- sharp knife
Put the 100g of butter and sugar in a mixing bowl.
Use a wooden spoon to cream until it's pale and fluffy. This will take about 2 minutes.
You could use an electric mixer for this if you prefer.
Beat the eggs together with a fork and then gradually beat into the creamed mixture, along with the vanilla extract.
💭 Top Tip
- Often, when you add eggs to a sponge mix, they tend to curdle, even if they have been added gradually. If this happens, use a balloon whisk to incorporate the mixture or beat in a spoonful of the flour.
Mix the peel with the flour in a bowl.
This helps to make sure the sticky peel in evenly incorporated.
Use a metal spoon to gently fold the flour and peel into the creamed mixture.
Use the remaining butter to liberally grease the pudding basin with the butter wrapper or a pastry brush.
Cut out a circle of parchment paper to line the base and grease this as well.
Cut the cherries in half.
Arrange a few halves, cut side down on the base of the basin.
Carefully add some of the sponge mixture to just cover the cherries and keep them in place.
Now, add a few halves around the bottom sides and add more mixture.
Repeat until the cherries and sponge mixture are used up.
💭 Top tip
- It's tempting to try and add all the cherries first, but they will likely keep sliding down, even with the butter. Adding a few cherries and sponge gradually means that the sponge holds them in place.
I added a few leftover to the top, but these will slightly sink with cooking.
Cut out a large circle of parchment to cover the top and halfway down the sides.
Scrunch it up into a ball then flatten it out. This makes it easier to work with.
Make a pleat in the middle of the circle and use string to tie it around the top of the basin securely.
💭 Top tip
- It's helpful to tie another piece of string around the whole pudding like a loose parcel. This means that you can safely remove it from the hot water after cooking.
Place the pudding in a saucepan and pour boiling water to come halfway up the sides of the basin.
⏲️ Cooking Time
Put the lid on the pan and simmer for one and a half hours.
Keep an eye on the water level and top up if required.
Carefully remove the basin from the water and leave the pudding to rest for a few minutes.
Remove the baking parchment and run a knife around the edge of the basin.
Turn out onto a plate to serve.
🥗 Serve with
Enjoy cabinet pudding hot or cold with:
- Whipped cream
- Pouring cream
- Vanilla ice cream
- Crème fraîche
- Butter - use baking margerine
- Caster sugar - put genaulated sugar into a blender and pulse a few times.
- Fruit - swap the mixed peel with sultanas, raisins or currants.
- Cupboard - cover the leftovers and store at room temperature for up to 3 days.
- Freezer - wrap well and freeze for up to 3 months.
- Reheat - heat individual portions in the microwave until hot. I like to do this with a squirt of golden syrup.
🍱 Prepare in Advance
- Prepare the pudding for cooking and store in the fridge for 2 days before cooking.
More British desserts
- Chocolate Rice Pudding
- Buxton Pudding
- Apple and Fig Crumble
- Creamed Rice Pudding
- Macaroni Pudding
- Syrup Sponge Pudding
- Butterscotch Tart
- Lemon Syllabub
- Eve's Pudding
- 1.14 litre pudding basin 2 pint
- Large Saucepan with lid
- Wooden spoon
- Mixing bowl
- Pastry brush
- Sharp knife
- kitchen string
- baking parchment
- 100 g butter
- 2 tablespoon butter
- 100 g self raising flour
- 100 g caster sugar
- 35 g mixed peel
- 75 g glace cherries
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 eggs
- Put the 100g of butter and sugar in a mixing bowl. Use a wooden spoon to cream until it's pale and fluffy.
- Beat the eggs together with a fork and then gradually beat into the creamed mixture, along with the vanilla extract.
- Mix the peel with the flour in a bowl and use a metal spoon to gently fold the flour and peel into the creamed mixture.
- Use the remaining butter to liberally grease the pudding basin with the butter wrapper or a pastry brush.
- Cut out a circle of parchment paper to line the base and grease this as well.
- Cut the cherries in half and arrange a few halves, cut side down on the base of the basin.
- Carefully add some of the sponge mixture to just cover the cherries and keep them in place.
- Add a few halves around the bottom sides and add more mixture.
- Repeat until the cherries and sponge mixture are used up.
- Cut out a large circle of parchment to cover the top and halfway down the sides.
- Make a pleat in the middle of the circle and use string to tie it around the top of the basin securely.
- Place the pudding in a saucepan and pour boiling water to come halfway up the sides of the basin.
- Put the lid on the pan and simmer for one and a half hours. Keep an eye on the water level and top up if required.
- Carefully remove the basin from the water and leave the pudding to rest for a few minutes.
- Remove the baking parchment and run a knife around the edge of the basin.
- Turn out onto a plate to serve.
Disclaimer: The nutritional information provided is approximate and is calculated using online tools. Information can vary depending on various factors, but we have endeavoured to be as accurate as possible.
Detailed instructions for this recipe, including step by step photographs, hints and tips, can be found in the main article
- Do not use the same utensils on cooked food, that previously touched raw meat.
- Wash hands after touching raw meat.
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods.
- Never leave cooking food unattended.
- Use oils with high smoking point to avoid harmful compounds.
- Always have good ventilation when using gas.
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