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What is Cottage Pudding?

By Laura Evans
Updated May 16, 2024
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Cottage pudding is actually a type of cake. This American dessert is a plain cake that is covered with a sauce. Flavors of sauces include chocolate, custard, strawberry, lemon, or butterscotch. Another variation is to bake the cake over fruit.

By today's terms, early recipes for cottage pudding could be quite uninformative. For example, New Zealand's “Otago Witness” published a recipe in the 12 May 1883 edition under "Home Interests." The recipe called for a half cup of milk, two cups of flour, two eggs lightly beaten, one tablespoon of baking powder and lemon or spice to be baked for half and hour, with the comment, "A cottage pudding is an inexpensive dish, and if the instructions are followed in making it, the pudding will be light and inviting." Another recipe listed under "Fireside Fragments" in the 5 June 1893 edition of the “Lewiston Evening Journal” states "Bake a plain cake in layers, spread with the sauce, and serve with whipped cream. This is very nice."

A modern recipe for cottage pudding cake calls for combining a half cup of sugar, quarter cup melted butter, two cups of flour, one cup of milk, two and a half teaspoons of baking powder and half a teaspoon of salt. The batter is then poured into a 13-inch, by nine-inch (33 centimeters by nine centimeters) greased pan and baked for about 30 minutes in a preheated 350-degree Fahrenheit (176.67-Celsius) oven. The cake is done when an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

While many recipes for cottage pudding suggest using cornstarch for thickening, this recipe calls for flour. This sauce for this cottage pudding cake is vanilla flavored. The recipe calls for two cups of boiling water, one cup sugar, two tablespoons of butter, two tablespoons of flour and one teaspoon of vanilla. These ingredients should cook over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved completely and the sauce appears to thicken slightly on a wooden spoon that has been inserted into and removed from the saucepot.

The cake should be sliced and served warm with vanilla sauce poured liberally over the top of each piece. If any cake and sauce is remains, the leftovers should be stored separately. Any remaining cake will be too wet and soggy to serve later if the cake and sauce are combined and refrigerator.

An alternative recipe for cottage pudding sauce is to slowly add two cups of sugar, two tablespoons cornstarch and one-eighth teaspoon of salt to two cups of water. After the combination is smooth, the mixture cooks over a low heat until the sugar is dissolved and the sauce has thickened. The sauce is removed from the stove. Then, a quarter cup butter, a quarter cup lemon juice and one teaspoon of grated lemon peel is added. This sauce is also served warm over warm cake.

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