Steamed Treacle Puddings and…Finding Ourselves

When I graduated from primary school at the age of 10 I was sent to an Intermediate School which was for two years and covered what today would be Sixth Grade and Year Seven.  In those two years we were supposed to ‘find ourselves’ and so were exposed to a range of subjects we had not known before like languages (French only), music lessons (guitar only), art classes (pottery and can you believe, candle making) and home making skills.

Steamed Treacle Puddings

There were four subjects that came under ‘homemaking skills’ and these were woodwork (boys only), metal work (boys only), sewing (girls only) and home science (girls only).  Being a girl, for the first half of the year I was sent to the sewing room and for the second half of the year I went to home science.

I didn’t like sewing.  The teacher was so old she had also taught my mother.  And my mother had said she was old back then.  Her name was Miss Lopdell and we used to think we were hilarious by calling her Miss Slopdell.  She had somehow lost a leg and it had been replaced with a wooden one and so she walked with a slight limp and we were always staring at her legs trying to work out which was the fake one.  It would have been easier for us to work this out if she didn’t wear such thick beige stockings but we all had constant arguments as to whether the wooden one was on the left or the right.  There was a constant dare right through the students of the entire school that on April Fool’s Day someone had to take a pin and stab it into her wooden leg.  I know the poor woman was stabbed many times but I’m not sure how many times in the wooden leg.

After decades of teaching, Miss Lopdell seemed bored with us all.  We were all idiots and this was proven when a friend of mine was sitting at the sewing machine and someone ran her finger under the needle creating a complete bloody mess and Miss Lopdell yelled out that this sort of thing only happens when students don’t listen to instructions and, ‘Now look; the needle’s broken’ like that was the only upset.  And indeed, my friend’s finger bone had been rather harsh on the needle and snapped it.  She sat at the machine with a broken sewing needle embedded in her bone crying her eyes out while Miss Lopdell gave us a lecture on how to take more care with the expensive equipment we had been blessed with.  When the lecture was over my friend with the embedded needle was allowed to visit the sick bay where the nurse decided she needed a visit to the local hospital.

It’s hard to remember what we did actually learn in these sewing lessons except that we would be in a lot of pain if we did run the sewing machine over our own fingers.  We were required to make an apron to wear in the Home Science classes and we also had to make a pillow slip.  Beyond these two items I’m not sure that we produced anything else in the entire two years of classes.

Despite failing to learn a thing, we certainly had a lot of laughs.

It seemed it was always cold in the sewing room and a good remedy was coming home to a steamed pudding.

Steamed Treacle Puddings

Steamed Treacle Puddings

Makes:  4

Degree of Difficulty:  3/5

Cost:  Minimal

  • 4 tbsp golden syrup
  • 140g (5 0z) butter
  • 140g (5 oz) brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 140g (5 0z) self-raising flour

Heat oven to 180C (350F).  Butter 4 200ml (7 fl oz) oven-proof moulds and pour a tablespoon of golden syrup into each one.

Cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add milk and stir it in well, then add flour and stir in lightly until the mixture is quite thick.  Spoon the mixture into the pots until 3/5 full and cover each one with buttered foil.  Place in a baking tray of hot water and bake for around 45 minutes until the puddings rise and spring back to the touch.  Remove from oven, and rest for 5 minutes before removing foil and turning out the puddings carefully onto servings plates.

Serve hot with pure cream or clotted cream or even ice cream.

This recipe has been adapted from Jill Dupleix’s Old Food.

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  1. Oh this is one of my favourite winter puddings – funnily enough I remember making this in Domestic Science as a young girl at school and again as a dinner lady/cook at my children’s primary school – it is always loved! Thank you for your lovely comments on my blog.

  2. Mary @ beyondjelly says:

    Yum! Puddings make everything better… except maybe needles in fingers. That might need a doctor. 😉

  3. I almost certain I ran the sewing needle over my finger as well.. just racing along at top speed (just like my car) and it went over.. not imbedded like your friend.. but a good jab!! Such a teacher, tch, why did they always wear support stockings??

  4. Mary@OnePerfectBite says:

    What an enjoyable post. The pudding sounds delicious and while it probably couldn’t have helped that poor girl’s finger, it certainly raised my spirits and whet my appetite. I hope you have a great day. Blessings…Mary

  5. Wrench50 says:
  6. Haha it’s funny how even though you’re meant to “find yourself”, there doesn’t seem like there isn’t much room for self discovery what with the generalisations. Interesting, though! And oooh… So quick, simple and delicious! I have a particular fondness for warm desserts so I’m sure I’d enjoy this. Especially if I can serve it with vanilla ice cream. Will make this for my family next time.

  7. Victoria at Flavors of the Sun says:

    Cute story. I can identify. We too had segregated classes, boys and girls. I fought all the way to the County Superintendent to be able to take Mechanical Drawing (boys only), on principle, and as a group the girls fought to be able to have boys in Home Ec (specifically cooking). Yet my Dad in the 1930s had to take six weeks of Home Ec where he sewed an apron and did some cooking. My, my, how times flip and flop with changes.

    The sticky pud looks lovely…if only, if only, I could find Golden Syrup (my grandfather ordered Lyle’s by the case).

  8. Cucina49 says:

    I have heard of treacle pudding after years of reading British novels, but had no idea what it actually looked like. It looks fabulous!

  9. A_Boleyn says:

    Gorgeous treacle puddings. I MUST find some golden syrup in town. Surely here in Ontario one of the chain stores carries the stuff. The specialty Brit import place closed down at least 5 yrs ago. They may have moved somewhere else but I have idea where.

    As to the sewing classes, we also had them when I was in school in the early 70s. I’ve used the skills learned there for a FEW things. (not finished)

    And the cooking classes. Also gender segregated and sometimes I think I would have gotten more use out of the boys’ tech classes. Though putting me in a room with machines that could cut your fingers/hand off would not have been a smart idea based on my experiences with the stove/oven and knives in general.

    I still cook of course, but don’t do much sewing any more.

    Thanks for reminding me of the good old days. 🙂

  10. I absolutely have to dig out the book! Those look divine! I failed sewing class, and art. I made the ugliest nightie ever in year 7. 🙂

  11. Claire @ Claire K Creations says:

    Or cream and icecream?
    I wish I had classes like that at school! We did get to do woodwork and pottery. I made a wine cooler for mum and dad but it shrank in the kiln so was only useful as decoration.

  12. ChgoJohn says:

    Our educations were so different, Charlie. Mine was Catholic and secondary (high) school was an all-male college prep school. There was no woodwork nor metalwork classes, which helps to explain why I’m so handy around the house. My diet was similarly deprived, as I’ve never tasted Steamed Treacle Pudding. Now don’t go feeling sorry for me. After all, I do know how to make pasta. Life has a way of evening things out. 🙂

  13. Vanessa Carnegie says:

    I lovvvve treacle pudding 🙂
    By the time I got to Textiles class (which was an elective, and which no boys chose to do), I already knew how to sew so I was kind of bored. And yet, I produced the ugliest pair of pyjamas known to man! I think the teacher just taught us to use the machine and then sat back and read a book and only helped when asked. So useful.

    • hotlyspiced says:

      Why were we only allowed to make ugly things? Surely not everything that is basic is ugly xx

  14. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella says:

    Lol, we use to truly wonder where they got our teachers from. Some of them were so comically strange that we really wondered if they were rejected from other schools!

    • hotlyspiced says:

      My maths teacher had been rejected from another school then after my results he was rejected from my school xx

  15. Minnie@thelady8home says:

    This had me laughing all the way through. I remember making SOGGIEST noodles known to mankind during my Home Science finals. Ugh! Also, I never finished a cross-stitch work that I started one year. My older one did a better job in 5th grade, don’t tell him that though.

    The pudding looks awesome. Bookmarking.

  16. Our high school had home economics and woodworking and metal working but everyone could go to any of the classes. If you were prepping for university, during that class time we had to have 1/2 typing and 1/2 creative writing so I never learned to cook and sew.

    Years later I was a plant manager for a work glove sewing manufacturer and now I cook. So it’s possible to survive without the classes but it might have made life easier. I wouldn’t have liked Miss Slopdell and I would have been the one with the pin. 🙂

    Your steamed pudding would make me feel much warmer right now as I’m freezing!

    • hotlyspiced says:

      When I went to high school in Australia both boys and girls did metal work, wood work, cooking and sewing as these subjects were compulsory in Year 7. I was so useless at textiles I’m amazed I didn’t run the needle over my finger! xx

  17. Juliet Batten says:

    We had sewing and cooking too, and cooking was always much more exciting. I don’t think the teachers easily found a way to making sewing fun. They called it ‘clothing’ too, which was a horrible word. Later I started making my own skirts and dresses, and enjoyed sewing after all.

  18. OMG OMG OMG that teacher is HORRIBLE! I would have made a complaint against this teacher what the…she is just rude I remember doing ‘textiles’ in high school too and i hated it! I don’t
    think I could sew anything to save my own life! But I appreciate the
    experience ~

    PUDDING! This is like the fourth pudding recipe I’ve seen today it’s definitely pudding season hehe loveeeee this recipe 🙂 Can’t wait to try it out! Thank you for sharing as always 😀

  19. The gender stereotypes that continue to characterise many high schools make me irritated if I allow myself to reflect on them. I, too, did home economics (not very well) whilst my brother did wood work. I doubt I’d have been good at wood work either, but a choice would have been nice!
    At least cooking skills allow desserts such as these to be created, which is something 🙂

  20. Reem I Simply Reem says:

    Our teachers were so strange I still remember..
    It was like going into the classroom taught by an angry weird alien!!!

  21. love2dine says:

    This food looks so good that makes me hungry!!

  22. justonecookbook says:

    My mom is a quilter but I fail in any type of sewing and I even wait for her to come to the US so she can put a button on my jacket etc… I’m horrible.
    I remember having bad and weird teachers too, but gosh you have a great memory and I almost forgot all the details…I’m not grandma but can’t remember a thing lately. I love the pudding you made. Never had it before but would be lovely to have it on cold days… 🙂

    • hotlyspiced says:

      I’m a terrible sewer too. I take my mending up to the local dry cleaners and ask them to do it for me. I’m utterly useless. xx

  23. Teachers can be crazy! No doubt about it 😛
    But they would never say no to this pudding because they at least remain human 🙂


  24. J Cosmo Newbery says:

    Ooooo….I think I am in love! Gooey feelings abound!

  25. hehe that sounds like my school. My teacher Mrs Sharkey would fail me during the baby clothes sewing term saying on the report card that i hadn’t handed anything in to be marked….only to find she had stolen all the pieces I had made because she was pregnant!!! Pudding looks divine. it was something we made in cooking class (girls only) during the late 70’s.

  26. Hahaha this actually happened to me too (in yr.7 textiles class). Luckily my art teacher was a lot nicer than Miss Lopdell and a quick fix at the sick bay (no hospital visits) was all I needed 🙂

  27. Why is it you got to meet/encounter all the bizzarre, weird crazy characters growing up for your blog posts and I met not one?

    • hotlyspiced says:

      I don’t know. I think the crazies are out there everywhere. How have you managed to avoid them? xx

  28. Oh wow. I never really got into sewing either and made my mum do the projects for me.. I hate the sewing machine!

  29. Your memory to recount events during your youth continues to astound me. Meanwhile, please pass the dessert.

  30. Oh, home science. One of my least favorite subjects in school. I think we made a sweatshirt and a stuffed animal. Fortunately there were no sewing machine accidents.

  31. Yikes! I never cottoned to sewing and do remember taking a class. Seems like someone always sews their finger, but breaking the bone…gives me the shivers. So maybe I now need some of this warm treacle pudding, too! It looks very caramel-y and delicious!

  32. Goodness! Under those circumstances I’d be afraid of a sewing machine! Have you ever used your candlemaking expertise? 🙂 That’s a bit random, isn’t it. Perhaps time would have been best served learning macrame or napkin folding. Ha! Love this recipe, too. I am familiar with steamed treacle puddings by reputation only! I wasn’t even sure what they were! This looks wonderful and appeals to me greatly! I’ll be making this for sure. I do think there’s a Britisher in me trying to come out! 🙂 Debra

    • hotlyspiced says:

      No, I haven’t made candles since. But we did use to do macrame and I loved making hanging baskets with it. Haven’t done that since the 70’s as well. xx

  33. InTolerantChef says:

    I once sewed a sampler into my leg, that wasn’t much fun either. I can’t believe you have wasted all those valuable life lessons Charlie, don’t you sit around happily making tallow dips and pillow slips? What kind of womanly skills do you possess apart from making delicious puddings? Well, at least these still taste good in the dark without candles 🙂

    • hotlyspiced says:

      Thank goodness it was a free education or my parents would have been thinking all the money spent was a complete waste. xx

  34. Oh wow, I have never had this, or tried it….but I am loving your picture of the delicious recipe. I will have to check with you to make sure I make it right for sure:-) YUM! Hugs, Terra

  35. Gah, needlework. I had to take this at school. We were supposed to be sewing a case for pens I think, but the teacher was so old, bored and boring. We just had no motivation in that lesson so ended up messing about the whole time 😀

    • hotlyspiced says:

      That’s the problem. When the teacher makes it such a dull and boring class all you do is muck about and that’s when you run your finger under the needle. xx

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