Setting up a steamer
There’s no need for specialist equipment – just put an upturned plate in a large stock pot to act as a trivet. Before you start, make sure the pudding basin fits into the pan with about 5cm to spare when covered with the lid, then top up the water during cooking as needed.
Tied up with string
Making a pleat in the baking paper and foil creates room for the sponge to rise as it cooks, so you’ll end up with a fluffy sponge that isn’t packed down into the basin as it expands. A string handle helps you easily and safely remove the hot basin from the pan. Spend a few minutes on both of these steps to make sure the sponge is secure, which will make serving a lot easier.
Save the egg whites
You’ll have four egg whites left over from this recipe. Freeze them in an airtight container and save for future meringues, soufflés or Japanese-style fluffy pancakes.
Not only is sponge and custard one of the most nostalgic and comforting combinations, there’s something really calming about a slow-cooked sponge simmering away on the hob as the kitchen windows steam up. You could also cook this in a slow cooker for 6-8 hours on low.
Making your own custard can be incredibly satisfying, as it slowly thickens while you stir, similar to a risotto. Custard needs constant attention and therapeutic rotations with a spatula but it’s worth it to see the result when it finally coats the back of a spoon. Use a heavy-based pan and make sure to stir right into the bottom of the pan so the custard doesn’t catch.
Golden syrup and a hint of lemon are the perfect combination in this classic steamed sponge. But if you fancy mixing it up to suit the season, swap the syrup in the basin for lemon curd, jam, marmalade or ginger syrup. You can also add spices to the batter, such as cinnamon, ground ginger or cardamom. Try a few fresh bay leaves, a cinnamon stick or grating of nutmeg in the custard for a twist.
- golden syrup 100g, plus extra to serve
- lemon 1, zested, plus 1 tbsp of juice
- soft light brown sugar 125g
- unsalted butter 175g, softened, plus extra for the basin
- eggs 3
- vanilla extract 1 tsp
- self-raising flour 175g
- whole milk 2-3 tbsp
- egg yolks (we used Burford Browns to give the custard a golden colour) 4
- golden caster sugar 50g
- cornflour 4 tbsp
- whole milk 600ml
- vanilla pod 1, seeds scraped out
Try more classic British pudding recipes
- Kcals 501
- Fat 25.7g
- Saturates 14.5g
- Carbs 57.6g
- Sugars 34.5g
- Fibre 1g
- Protein 9g
- Salt 0.5g