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Generously grease a 1.2-litre pudding basin and put your chosen topping in the base. Boil a kettle of water. To prepare your steamer, put a snugly fitting upturned bowl in the base of a large, deep saucepan, big enough to hold the pudding.
Put the ingredients for the sponge in a food processor and blend until smooth (but don’t overwork the mix), then tip into the pudding basin. Cover with a lid made of baking parchment and foil, and tie with string to secure (see step-by-step). Stand the pudding on the upturned bowl in your saucepan. Pour in enough hot water to come halfway up the side of the pudding basin. Set over a medium heat and bring to the boil. Cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid, lower the heat to a gentle simmer and leave to steam for 2½ hrs, topping up with boiling water if the level gets too low.
Check the pudding is cooked by inserting a skewer through the foil and parchment lid into the centre of the pudding. If the skewer still has some wet mixture on it, return the pudding to the steamer for a further 15-20 mins, then check again. Once cooked, uncover and turn the pudding onto a plate. Serve straight away with custard, if you like.