For the sponge:
6 oz very soft butter, plus more for greasing
6 oz self raising flour
6 oz caster sugar
3 large eggs
3 tablespoons milk
For the syrup base/topping:
juice of half a lemon (optional)
4 heaped tablespoons golden syrup
Either mix the ingredients for the sponge in a food mixer as if you were making a cake, or blitz them all in the food processor (easy option) (especially for us as our food mixer blew up last year and has not been replaced).
Pour the boiling water into a large saucepan which has a lid (the water should come about half to two thirds of the way up the side of the pudding basin when in) or into the base of a steamer. Put the saucepan on the heat. Meanwhile, butter the pudding basin, put the golden syrup in the bottom of it, and stir in the lemon juice. Pour the sponge mixture on top of the syrup.
Place a piece of greaseproof paper over the top of the pudding basin, with enough paper so that some is hanging over the edges of the pudding basin. Place a piece of foil over the greaseproof paper, also hanging over the edges. Try a piece of string tightly around the circumference of the bowl, under the lip, to secure the foil. You will need someone else's finger to help tie the knot! You will also need a proper pudding basin with a lip around it.
Then put the pudding basin into the saucepan, put the lid on the saucepan, and that's it. The pan should keep just boiling, with the lid on. The important thing is that it shouldn't boil dry. Keep some hot water in a kettle to pour in when necessary. Let it cook for a minimum of two hours. When its ready, remove from the boiling water and let rest for a couple of minutes.
Turn out with great aplomb onto a large plate with a sauce-saving lip. Serve with ice cream, custard (if you want the true English experience), and more golden syrup to taste.
You will need a 1.5-litre pudding basin - this is a ceramic bowl with a lip at the top. The bowl can be set in a pan of boiling water.
As an alternative cooking method, for those of you fortunate enough to have an Aga, put the pudding basin in an ovenproof pan containing some water, and cook in the bottom oven. Then you won't have a steam-filled kitchen for two hours.
This is Jake's contribution. It is his favorite pudding and he often makes it for us. In the days when we all ate very stodgy puddings my mother used to use suet in all steamed puddings. Now we use butter which makes a lighter and more sponge-like pudding. Don’t even think about substituting a 'healthy' alternative.
Editor’s note: Culinary Encyclopedia may be needed to look up”Aga”
3 weeks ago