A classic lemon sponge with added glamour: as the pudding is cut open, swirls of blackcurrant sauce are revealed. Topped with juicy blackcurrants plus a dash of crème de cassis, it’s served with creamy custard.
Makes: one large pudding, serves 8
Hands-on time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
Steaming time: 2 hours
Skill level: Easy
For the lemon sponge:
Finely grated zest 5 medium unwaxed lemons
175g self-raising flour
175g unsalted butter, softened
175g golden caster sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
3 medium eggs, at room temperature, beaten
For the blackcurrant sauce:
200g fresh or frozen blackcurrants
50g light brown muscovado sugar
Finely grated zest 1 unwaxed lemon
4 tablespoons crème de cassis (blackcurrant liqueur)
For the custard:
125ml whole milk
125ml double cream
½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste
3 medium egg yolks, at room temperature
3 tablespoons caster sugar
You will also need:
1 litre pudding basin, well greased with butter
Sheet of baking parchment, greased with butter
Sheet of kitchen foil
Electric whisk or food mixer
Cooking syringe or meat injector
Step 1 – Before making the sponge, place an upturned saucer or small plate on the base of a large deep pan (which has a lid) and fill about a third full with hot water. Cover and set over a medium heat.
Step 2 – Prepare the covering for the basin: cut the baking paper into a large disc (10cm larger than the diameter of the basin) then fold the paper (greased side down) so it has a 3cm fold or crease in the centre. Turn the paper around by 90 degrees and repeat, so the top resembles a cross. Do the same with the sheet of foil – this will give the pudding room to expand as it cooks.
Step 3 – To make the sponge: put the lemon zest into a bowl, then sift the flour on top and thoroughly combine. Put the butter, sugar and vanilla into another mixing bowl (or the bowl of the food mixer) and beat thoroughly until very creamy and light – scraping down the sides of the bowl from time to time. Gradually pour in the eggs, beating well after each addition. Add in the flour/lemon zest mixture and gently but thoroughly fold in using a large metal spoon or plastic spatula.
Step 4 – Spoon the batter into the greased basin and spread evenly using the back of a spoon. Cover the top of the bowl with the baking paper (greased side down) then the foil, and secure with string tied tightly around the rim of the basin. Using a doubled length of string, create a handle to go over the top of the basin (for lifting the pudding out of the pan) and tie it to the string on either side.
Step 5 – Put the basin into the pan, on top of the saucer, and (if necessary) add more hot water so it reaches about a third up the sides of the basin. Cover the pan and simmer gently for 2 hours. Check the pan regularly and top up with hot water to prevent the pan boiling dry.
Step 6 – Meanwhile, make the blackcurrant sauce: put 150g of the blackcurrants (no need to thaw if frozen) into a pan with the water, sugar and lemon zest and set over a low heat. Stir gently until the sugar has dissolved, then simmer for about 5-7 minutes until the blackcurrants have softened and burst and their juices thickened. Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining blackcurrants and the crème de cassis. Leave until cold, then set a fine sieve over a jug and carefully strain the sauce. Tip the blackcurrants back into the pan and set aside. Pour the juice into the food syringe.
Step 7 – When the pudding is almost ready, make the custard: pour the milk, cream and vanilla into a heavy-based, medium-sized pan and heat gently. Remove the pan from the heat just before it comes to a boil. Put the egg yolks and sugar into a heatproof bowl and whisk (using a wire hand whisk) for a couple of minutes until paler and very smooth. Pour in the hot milk mixture in a slow steady stream, whisking constantly, then tip the mixture back into the pan. Stir constantly over a medium-low heat until the custard thickens enough to coat the back of the wooden spoon – don’t let the mixture come anywhere near to boiling or it will scramble. Pour into a warmed jug.
Step 8 – Lift out the pudding from the pan and remove the cover. Run a round-bladed knife around the inside of the bowl to loosen the sponge, and leave it for 5 minutes to firm up. Then turn out onto a warmed serving plate with a rim. Working fairly quickly, inject the pudding with the blackcurrant sauce: starting in the middle, insert the needle and gently inject sauce while simultaneously retracting the needle (to give a stripe of sauce). Repeat at regular intervals all around the pudding, always beginning at the centre. Pour any remaining juice back into the pan with the fruit, gently warm, then spoon some of the mixture on top of the pudding so it gently flows down the sides. Serve the remainder in a warmed jug, alongside the custard.