By the time this post is up, our three-month road trip will be almost done and we will most-likely be back in Vancouver. During this trip, we’ve spent a lot of time discussing food, wondering how many of our favourite foods could be made with just a two-burner stove and a microwave.
Thus came the discussion of the Treacle Sponge. I first had this steamed pudding at Jonty’s parents’ place, when I was living in the UK. It’s a British classic; a steamed sponge that has a glorious amount of golden syrup infused on top, often served with a healthy dose of crème anglaise. It’s divine, really. It does take time, however – more than 2 hours in a steamer – so we usually make it once or twice only during the winter season.
In the RV, we don’t want to be steaming a pudding for 2 hours on a propane stove, which begs the question: would a microwave work just as well? Jonty was on a mission to find out.
Yes, yes, it can be done. And all in less than 5 minutes of mic time, this could be a very dangerous discovery… 🙂
We didn’t have access to our original treacle sponge recipe (no internet access where we were staying in Leavenworth), but we did have a superb reference, Micheal Ruhlman’s e-book, Ratios, which discusses the ingredient ratios for a simple sponge cake.
You need four basic ingredients in equal weights: eggs, sugar, flour and butter. Working on the weight of two eggs (~120 g), we simply matched the weight of the remaining ingredients. We also added a bit of baking powder, for leavening, just in case.
For the basic sponge, start by whipping the eggs until they have tripled in size, then add in the sugar and whisk to combine. When that mixture is pale yellow in colour, gently fold in the flour and baking powder, and finish with melted butter.
Then, take two well-greased glass bowls (ours hold one-cup of liquid) and add a generous dollop of golden syrup to the bottom (if you’re British, only Lyle’s Golden Syrup will do).
Divide the batter equally into the bowls, covering the golden syrup base.
Microwave the puddings, keeping an eye on them as they cook. In our RV microwave, the cook time was around 4 minutes, with both bowls in the microwave together. When done, a cake-tester inserted into the centre of the pudding should come out clean.
Run a knife around the edge of the bowl, to loosen the cake, and invert onto a plate.
Neither of us had any idea what the outcome would be, but we knew what the dessert should look like. We held our breath as Jonty lifted off the bowl.
And how did it taste?
Really, really good!
So, is there a difference between the steamed version and the microwaved version? The steamed version is more dense and perhaps slightly more moist, but the 5-minute microwaved version is a solid contender! Also, how can you argue with having a warm dessert in front of you in under 5 minutes?
Mark Ruhlman’s book talks about the differences of a sponge cake and a pound cake. Both use the same 4 ingredients in the same quantity, with the only difference being the order in which you combine them. Now that we know the “Sponge Cake” version works in the microwave, we’re going to try the “Pound Cake” version over the weekend and decide which method yields a Treacle Sponge closer in texture to the steamed variety.
I know you’re on the edge of your computer seat in anticipation, so stay tuned early next week for the answer!
- 2 large eggs (~120 g in weight)
- 120 g flour
- 120 g caster sugar
- 1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
- ½ tsp baking powder
- 2 - 4 tbsp Lyle's Golden Syrup
- Whisk the eggs until tripled in volume. Add the sugar and whisk until the mixture turns a pale yellow in colour. Gently fold in the flour and baking powder. Add the melted butter and stir until just combined.
- Grease two glass bowls* and spoon a generous dollop of golden syrup into the bottom. Divide the batter into the bowls, covering the golden syrup. Microwave both bowls together for about 4 minutes. This time will depend on your microwave, so keep an eye on the cakes. When done, a cake-tester inserted into the middle should come out clean.
- Run a knife around the edge of the bowl to loosen the pudding and invert over a plate to release the pudding. Serve with custard or more golden syrup.