If it’s too late to make your own Christmas pudding, then this steamed sponge would be an excellent alternative. The citrus flavour of preserved lemons are a perfect partner to the fiery and sweet ginger and take on a slightly chewy, candied texture through being cooked in syrup. They also provide an impressive decorative finish to the pudding. Before you start, check to see you have a pan that you can fit the bowl in.
4 small or 3 large Beldi Preserved lemons, sliced as thinly as possible and pips removed
7 chunks stem ginger, sliced as thinly as possible
3 tbsp golden syrup
3cm piece fresh ginger
175g self-raising flour
1tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground allspice
1 tbsp stem ginger syrup (if available)
175g unsalted butter
120g light brown muscovado sugar
4tbsp date molasses
3 medium eggs, at room temperature
Milk, to adjust consistency
Butter a 1.2ltr heatproof glass bowl or pudding basin. Fan the lemons around the base of the bowl, starting from the centre and working outwards in a single layer, slightly overlapping. Repeat with the stem ginger. Mix the golden syrup with the stem ginger syrup, if using, then pour on top.
Combine the flour, ground ginger and allspice in a bowl, then pass through a fine sieve to remove any lumps. Set aside.
Combine the butter, sugar and date molasses in a bowl and use an electric whisk or stand mixer to beat together util light and fluffy, around 5 – 8 minutes. Finely grate the ginger over a dish or bowl, squeeze the pulp to extract the juice, add this to the mix and whisk again to combine. Break the eggs into a cup then add one at a time into the mix, whisking constantly, allowing each one to fully incorporate before adding the next one. Add a spoonful of flour if the mix begins to curdle.
Fold through the flour and check that it is ‘dropping consistency’ i.e. the mix is wet enough that it drops off the end of the spoon. Add a little milk if necessary to achieve this. Spoon into the bowl with preserved lemon and ginger and cover with baking paper and a sheet of foil with a pleat in the centre, which will allow the pudding to rise. Tie string around the edge of the bowl to secure and trim any excess foil and paper.
Place in a pan then add enough boiling water to come half way up the side of the bowl. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and steam (the water should be gently ticking away, not boiling) and cook for 1hr 45 minutes. Check occasionally to top up the water if needed. If you have one, you could also use a steam oven for this, but it will cook more quickly.
Once cooked, rest for 10 minutes then run a knife around the outside of the bowl. Hold a plate on top of the bowl then turn the pudding over to release. Serve with custard, clotted cream or crème fraiche.