Diana's Desserts - www.dianasdesserts.com

Steamed Syrup Sponge

Servings: 6-8
"I know steamed sponges are so out of favor as to be, generally, beyond consideration now, but please do yourself a favor: cook it, eat it, and then tell me...", urges the popular British food writer and TV food-show star, Nigella Lawson.

For the Sponge:
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks/6 oz/170g) very soft unsalted butter, plus more for greasing
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons self-rising cake flour
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
3 large eggs
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
3 tablespoons milk

For the Syrup Base-Topping:
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
Juice of 1/2 lemon

Lawson recommends the use of a plastic 7-cup pudding basin with lid (but don't put it in the dishwasher). Plastic pudding basins can be purchased on the internet at: thecookskitchen.com or smallislandtrader.com and at other online cooking stores.

Put a kettle of water on to boil. Then put the butter, flour, sugar, eggs, lemon zest and juice, and milk in the food processor and process together, adding a little more milk if the mix is too thick (it should be a thick, pouring consistency). Pour the boiling water into a large saucepan that 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 it on the stove. Meanwhile, butter the pudding basin, put the syrup in the bottom of it and stir in the lemon juice. Pour the sponge mixture on top of the syrup and put on the plastic lid, remembering to butter it first. Then put the pudding basin into the saucepan, put the lid on the saucepan, and that's it. The pan should just keep boiling, with the lid on. The important thing is that it shouldn't boil dry. Keep some water hot in the kettle to pour in when necessary. I know one is supposed to put the basin on a saucer in the pan, but the rattling noise it makes drives me mad, and the pudding doesn't seem to suffer for being untriveted. Let it cook for a minimum of 2 hours, more won't matter. When it's ready, remove (I don't bother to make a handle out of string, but use two spatulas to lift it out of the boiling water) and let it rest for a couple of minutes, no longer. Turn out onto a large plate with a sauce-saving lip. To accompany it, the usual trio of suggestions holds good here: cream, ice cream, custard. If custard, think of flavoring it with lemon zest, not vanilla.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Source: How To Be A Domestic Goddess: Nigella Lawson
Date: August 22, 2002