Castle pudding is a classic pudding that probably was first made centuries ago in the UK. Unlike the more milky or eggy custards that are traditionally associated with American pudding, castle pudding is a sponge pudding, like plum pudding and spotted dick. It may be cooked via the water bath method, and contains flour in addition to eggs, milk and sugar.
Traditionally, castle pudding is baked in a dariole mold, producing a tall cylinder of spongy almost “cakey” dessert. If you don’t have dariole molds, you can use ramekins instead, but you won’t produce quite as authentic of a dish. The pudding itself is typically rather plain, with perhaps some vanilla, or occasionally a bit of sherry or lemon flavoring. For this reason, castle pudding is almost always topped with a good-sized dollop of strawberry jam.
When castle pudding is served warm, the strawberry jam will become a bit less jellied, and run down the sides of the dessert, creating a bit of strawberry sauce with every bite. You can consider some nontraditional toppings — any another type of jam will do, or you could make a bit of lemon sauce or curd for the top.
The origins of this pudding are not abundantly clear. Numerous sponge puddings are common in England. Sometimes the only difference between a castle pudding and any other type is the topping. For instance, you can find recipes online for syrup sponge pudding, which is topped with either golden syrup or maple syrup depending upon preference. Unlike plum pudding and spotted dick, though, castle pudding doesn’t usually contain raisins or other fruits, and isn’t heavily spiced. In fact it tastes a bit like a sweetened Yorkshire pudding.
There are some differences in recipes on whether you need to use a water bath when baking this dish. Some chefs recommend the water bath because it gives the dessert a softer, spongier taste. Others suggest that the pudding bakes just as well without the water. You may have to try several recipes to decide which one is most appealing to you.
This simple dessert, which is easy to make, can be a great way to entertain guests at a British or Scottish inspired feast. A Harry Potter dinner, for instance could conclude with the serving of castle pudding. Since the dessert is not complex in flavor, it’s likely to be a favorite among younger guests, as well as those who simply adore UK recipes.