To celebrate VE Day, Philippa Davis considers how cooks fed the nation under rationing with a wartime-inspired recipe for chocolate steamed duff

Waste was kept to an absolute minimum in the kitchen during wartime rationing. For puddings, stale bread would be turned into useful crumbs and baking paper and foil were always reused. And puddings were a huge treat, with sugar, butter and eggs all in short supply. To celebrate VE Day, have a go at Philippa Davis’ wartime-inspired recipe for chocolate steamed duff.

For more, potatoes were one of the few ingredients in plentiful supply. Try our recipe for homity pie, a recipe created during World War II by the land girls. Or take inspiration from Dig for Victory and learn how to grow early harvest potatoes or how to grow rhubarb with our advice.


Puddings were a huge treat during the war as sugar, butter and eggs were rationed. Duff is a wonderful term for an English pudding.

Serves 6


  • 120g salted butter
  • 60g caster sugar
  • 60g dark muscovado
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 120g walnuts, finely ground
  • 120g self-raising flour
  • 2 tbsp golden syrup
  • 1 dsp instant coffee mixed with 1 dsp hot water

Chocolate sauce

  • 80g 65% chocolate
  • 75g double cream
  • 25ml milk
  • 2 tbsp syrup

For the duff, bButter a 1.5 litre pudding basin well.

Beat the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy.

Add the vanilla, eggs, walnuts, flour, syrup and coffee; gently beat until all combined.

Pour into the pudding basin – the mix should come to at least 4cm below the brim. Cover the entire top generously with a buttered piece of pleated parchment then a piece of pleated foil. Tie securely with string and steam for 1 hour 45 minutes.

Once cooked, remove from the steamer and leave for 10 minutes before turning out.

For the sauce, place all the sauce ingredients into a pan on a low heat. Whisk gently until the chocolate is melted and the mixture smooth.

To serve, pour the hot sauce over the steamed pudding then cut into slices and serve.