Travel back in time with Mary Honner’s Cambridge pudding

College Pudding College or Cambridge pudding is just one of Mary Honner’s 30 recipes for sweet and savoury puddings.

Travel back in time with Mary Honner’s Cambridge pudding

The earliest recipe for this pudding is included in an English recipe compilation by John Murrell that was printed in London in 1617.

The dish was associated with the student halls of the University of Cambridge. Initially it was a steamed suet pudding of dried fruit, dates, spice, milk, eggs, breadcrumbs, and flour that was served hot with a pudding sauce.

It is but one of an extensive family of British steamed puddings. Overtime, the quantity of spice was gradually reduced, and by the nineteenth century, the puddings were routinely baked in the oven rather than steamed in a pudding cloth.

Mary Honner’s recipe for College Pudding contains dried fruit, candied lemon and nutmeg. Her recipe calls for the batter to be baked into little individual tin-shaped puddings.

These little puddings are wonderfully satisfying and made all the better when served hot with a sweet, buttery wine sauce.

George Boole’s Sweet College Puddings with Wine Sauce

These little puddings are wonderfully satisfying and made all the better when served hot with a sweet, buttery wine sauce. The recipe below is an adapted version of one that is included in Mrs Mary Honner’s recipe collection. In line with her instructions, these are baked in the oven rather than steamed. There was an immense range of baked and steamed sweet puddings in 19th-century recipes collections and the one that is remembered best and still enjoyed is the Christmas pudding. These puddings were usually served with a sweet sauce. They are quick and easy to make and in the recipe below I’ve replaced the suet with butter to give a lighter pudding.

Serves 4

Oven 180 C/350F/gas

4 Four small pudding bowls, greased


110g/4 oz. raisins

2 tablespoons sherry

60g/ 2 ½ oz. breadcrumbs

50g/ 2 oz. flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

1 – 1 ½ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

25g/1 oz. candied lemon peel

75g/3oz. butter

50g/2 oz. caster sugar

1 large egg

6 tablespoons milk Nutmeg and lemon for garnishing


  • Preheat the oven.
  • In a small bowl soak the raisins in the sherry for about an hour or until they have plump-up and absorbed all the liquid.
  • In a large bowl mix the flour, breadcrumbs, baking powder and sugar.
  • Mix in the raisins and candied lemon.
  • Gently melt the butter in a saucepan over a low heat and pour into the dry mixture along with the egg and milk.
  • Mix to a batter and then fill the greased pudding bowls.
  • Bake the puddings in a bain marie for 30 to 35 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the puddings.
  • Remove from the oven and leave to stand while you make the sauce.
  • Wine Sauce 25g/1 oz. butter, softened at room temperature ½ teaspoon flour 120 ml/4 fl. oz. water 40g/ 1 ½ oz. caster sugar Rind of half a lemon, thinly sliced 180 ml/6 fl. oz. sherry, Madeira or white wine Mix the softened butter with the flour and set aside.
  • Place the water, sugar and lemon peel in a heavy- bottomed saucepan.
  • Bring to the boiling stirring until the sugar has dissolved.
  • Turn down the heat and leave to bubble for c. 10- 15 minutes.
  • Strain the peel and leave the syrup on the heat for another minute or so until it starts to turn brown.
  • Remove from the heat, add in the butter/flour mixture and stir it through until you have a smooth thicken sauce.
  • Stir in the sherry, Madeira or white wine and serve immediately with the hot puddings.
  • To serve Remove the puddings from the bowls and pour the hot wine sauce over each pudding.
  • Garnish with slivers of lemon peel and a little grated nutmeg.

For an adapted version of the recipe that is included in Mrs Mary Honner’s recipe collection, see

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