Top 5 School Pudding Recipes

It is with great fondness that I look back on my school days. One memory in particular was lining up, plastic tray in hand, dazzled by the yellowish/orange bulbs that illuminated the food in front of me. A kindly dinner lady would be ready with her serving utensils to dish up some pretty impressive puddings. 

While school dinners do have a bit of a reputation for being bland and boring, there was nothing boring about the moist chocolate sponge cake with chocolate icing drizzled in mint custard. You’re not going to get anything like that anywhere else!

But this got me thinking, what are the top British school puddings and can they be recreated at home? In this guide, I’ll walk you through some of the most delicious and memorable school puddings and tell you how to cook them up in your very own kitchen. 

1. Jam Roly Poly

If there is ever a pudding that takes you right back to the school dining hall, it’s got to be jam roly poly. This was a school favourite for my parents who went to school in the 60s and was just as popular during my time at school in the 90s. I’m pretty sure my kids even have it now at school. 

This was one of those that was on the menu at least once a week and I remember trying to get to the front of the queue to make sure I got one of the best pieces. 

Back in the day, jam roly poly was actually served in old shirt sleeves. A bit strange but it explains how it earned the name dead man’s arm.

How To Make Jam Roly Poly

Jam roly poly is a classic British dessert that’s not all that difficult to make. It’ll take around 35 minutes in total before you’re chowing down on this old school favourite. You will need:

  • 100g of margarine
  • 200g of self raising flour
  • 125g of jam in any flavour you choose
  • 1 teaspoon of caster sugar
  • Egg wash
  • Cold water


  • Start by preheating your oven to 180ºC
  • Take a large mixing bowl and combine the margarine and flour until you achieve a crumby consistency. 
  • You can add little amounts of your cold water while mixing to create your dough. Don’t add too much at once and stop adding it entirely once the dough stops sticking to the sides of the bowl. 
  • Flour your work surface and roll your dough so that you have a rectangular shape. You’ll want to make it around 30×25 centimetres and keep the longest side nearest to you. 
  • Now take your jam and spread this all over your dough. Make sure to leave some space around the edges; about 1.5 centimetres will do the trick. 
  • On the clean edge that is furthest from you, apply some egg wash and then begin to gently roll the dough away from you, creating a cylindrical shape. 
  • Once you reach the end, seal this using a fork. 
  • Now take the entire thing and pop it onto a baking tray before egg washing the whole pudding. 
  • Sprinkle the caster sugar over the roly poly and make some pricks on the surface with a knife to let steam come out while the pudding cooks. 
  • Cook your jam roly poly for 20 minutes and then serve it with custard. 

2. Chocolate Sponge Cake

When you think back to your school days, you’ll probably remember the infamous chocolate sponge cake. It’s been a staple dessert for many years in schools all over the UK and even today, I see it on the recipe handouts for my kids’ schools. 

But chocolate sponge cake wasn’t just a sweet treat that we enjoyed at school. It’s also a dessert that many of us also had at home. On a Friday teatime, that special treat day, not only would dad bring home a bar of chocolate but mum would make a hearty chocolate sponge pudding for dessert; no wonder we looked forward to weekends so much. 

How To Make Chocolate Sponge Cake

I’ve already touched upon how much I enjoyed chocolate sponge day at school and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one. If this was the pudding that got you to school in the morning then you’ll be pleased to know there’s a recipe that almost perfectly replicates it. Here’s what you’re going to need:

  • 100g of caster sugar
  • 100g of margarine
  • 175g of self raising flour
  • 25g of cocoa powder
  • 25ml of milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence


  • You’ll need a 20cm deep cake tin for this recipe so get this ready before you start and fire that oven up to 140ºC
  • Now take a mixing bowl and blend your sugar and margarine together until you get a light and creamy texture. 
  • One at a time, add your eggs and whip the mixture until everything is well blended together. 
  • Next, pop in the cocoa powder, flour, milk and a splash of vanilla essence and continue mixing well. 
  • Transfer the mixture to your cake tin and bake in the oven for around 40 minutes.

You’ll want to serve this with custard for the most authentic experience and while it is entirely possible to use tinned custard, here are some quick steps for making your own. 

  • Get a medium sized saucepan and add a pint of milk, 3 tablespoons of custard powder, 25g of cocoa powder and 2 tablespoons of muscovado sugar. 
  • Whisk the mixture until it is well blended together. 
  • Turn the hob onto a medium heat and allow the mixture to come to the boil. Keep stirring so that you don’t end up with any lumps (although that would remind you of school, right?)

3. Gypsy Tart

Gypsy tart finds its origins in the Isle of Sheppey in Kent and when it first became popular in the 60s, school kids would go mad for it. I remember speaking to my dad about this particular pudding and he said it was one of those that made him not want to play hookey!

I’d highly recommend this pudding for people with an insatiable sweet tooth and the great news is that it’s super easy to make at home. 

How To Make Gypsy Tart

The key to making a good gypsy tart is whipping; if you think you’ve whipped enough, a little more can’t hurt. In around 50 minutes, you’ll have a pudding that instantly takes you back to your childhood. You’re going to need the following ingredients:

  • 150s of self raising flour
  • 75g of margarine
  • Water
  • 150g of evaporated milk
  • 183g of muscovado sugar


  • You will begin by making the pastry but before you start, be sure to set your oven to 180ºC.
  • Take the margarine and flour and mix these in a large mixing bowl until you get a crumbly texture. You’ll need to make sure to keep adding water to ensure that the ingredients properly bind. 
  • Now roll your dough out and put this into a fluted dish, laying it out smoothly. 
  • Use a circular piece of greaseproof paper and put this over your pastry. Fill this with baking beans as this will prevent the pastry from moving around as it cooks. 
  • Pop your dish into the oven and leave the pastry to cook for around a quarter of an hour. 
  • Now you’re ready to make the filling. To begin, you’ll need to put the sugar into a bowl and start adding your evaporated milk. Don’t add it all at once, this is a gradual process. Add a little, then whisk, add a little more, then whisk again. 
  • Once all of the milk is whisked in, turn your whisk up to max and whisk the ingredients until they have the consistency of a mousse. 
  • You might want to check the mixture before baking to make sure the texture isn’t gritty. Iff it is, whisk some more until it’s nice and smooth. 
  • Now transfer the mousse into your pastry and pop the whole thing into the oven for another five minutes. 

4. Steamed Raspberry Pudding 

When you think of school desserts, one of those that immediately springs to mind is the steamed raspberry pudding. I can still smell it now and it followed me all the way from infants school through to my senior years. 

This is a great recipe for cold winter days when you want something sweet and warming. It might look a little haphazard but that was the joy of school puddings; they were always a few steps away from perfection. 

How To Make Steamed Raspberry Pudding

Making steamed raspberry pudding is great as it’s something you’ll probably already have all the ingredients for. If you’re stuck for a sweet treat for after dinner tonight, take a look through your cupboards and you’ll be able to whip this up in just over an hour. You’re going to need:

  • 100g of caster sugar
  • 100g of margarine
  • 200g of self raising flour
  • 6 tablespoons of raspberry jam
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
  • 2 tablespoons of milk


  • For this recipe, you will need individual pudding moulds. The ingredients I have listed will make six puddings so you’ll need six moulds. Place a single tablespoon of jam into each mould and put them to one side for now. 
  • Grab a mixing bowl and beat your margarine and sugar until it becomes nice and creamy. 
  • You can now add your eggs, one at a time, and continue beating the mixture.
  • Next, add the rest of the ingredients and fold them into the mixture. It’s important not to beat at this stage. 
  • Now place equal amounts of the mixture into your pudding moulds and cover the moulds over with either tin foil or a lid, if the moulds have one. 
  • Make sure you have preheated your steamer and pop the puddings inside for around an hour. 
  • When the time has elapsed, remove the puddings and turn each mould upside down on a plate before removing the mould. 
  • These little delights go perfectly with custard or ice cream but are just as tasty on their own. 

5. Treacle Pudding

Is there any pudding more British than the treacle pudding? I can taste it as I sit here typing and the urge to head to the kitchen and start baking is pretty intense. There is nothing more comforting and filling than a treacle pudding and they’re seen everywhere from pub dessert menus to schools all over the UK; it’s no wonder this pudding is considered a favourite!

How To Make Treacle Pudding

The brilliant thing about treacle pudding is that it isn’t a difficult recipe to make. It has a few more ingredients than some of the other puddings and takes a little longer at 90 minutes but it’s worth it for that rich, sweet taste. Before you start, make sure you have the following ingredients:

  • 100g of caster sugar
  • 200g of self raising flour
  • 100g of margarine
  • 2 eggs
  • 5 tablespoons of golden treacle
  • 4 tablespoons of milk
  • 1 tablespoon of vanilla essence
  • Oil and flour


  • Before you begin, prepare your pudding basin (a 16cm one is best for the size of this recipe.) Coat the inside with a mixture of flour and oil before lining the bottom with your treacle. 
  • Next, you will need to beat the sugar and margarine together so that you end up with something creamy and light. 
  • Next, add in the eggs and continue mixing until it’s well blended together. 
  • You’ll now add the remaining ingredients and continue mixing gently to bring everything together. 
  • Take your finished mixture and pop it into your pudding basin over the top of the treacle you put in earlier. 
  • Cover the whole thing with tin foil or greaseproof paper and put it into a preheated steamer for an hour. 
  • After the hour has passed, check the pudding by putting a knife into the middle which should come out clean. If it does, the pudding is ready and you can remove it from the basin by turning it upside down on a plate. 
  • Serve treacle pudding with homemade custard, ice cream or cream. If you prefer, just eat it as it is, it’ll certainly be sweet enough!


They say that your school days are the best days of your life and I’ll hasten to agree with this statement. You had your friends, lots of fun and those beautiful moreish school puddings that everyone went crazy for. 

If you’re looking to relive your younger years then recreating some of these school pudding recipes at home is a great way to do it. The only problem is choosing between them all!

Cake Baker