Vegetarian recipe ideas
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Simmer the cooking apples, brown sugar and 3 tbsp of water in a pan for 5-8 minutes or until the apples break down into a purée. Remove from the heat and cool. Butter a 1.2-litre heatproof pudding bowl.
Beat the butter and caster sugar in a bowl with an electric whisk until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs, adding 1 tbsp of flour in between each, then fold in the remaining flour, vanilla, all the spices and the cooled apple purée. Add the milk to loosen the batter so it easily dollops off the spoon.
Pour the syrup into the bottom of the basin, and arrange the eating apple wedges on top. Spoon in the sponge batter and top with a sheet of baking paper, followed by foil, then secure with string.
Put an upturned saucer or trivet into a large lidded pan, and put the basin on top. Top up the pan with just-boiled water until it comes halfway up the basin, put the lid on the pan and simmer over a low heat for 2 hours 30 minutes, topping up the water if needed.
Check the pudding is cooked by inserting a skewer into the middle – if it has any wet mixture, steam for another 20 minutes and check again.
To make the custard, whisk the sugar, egg yolks, cornflour and a pinch of salt in a heatproof bowl until smooth. Heat the milk and cream with the bay leaf, lemon and vanilla until steaming but not quite boiling, then, continually whisking, gradually pour over the egg yolks. Transfer back to the pan and cook gently for 5-8 minutes or until thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon. Strain and serve in a big jug. Remove the foil from the steamed sponge, and invert onto a serving plate to serve with a generous covering of custard.