100g mixed dried fruit , such as raisins, currants and sultanas
4 tbsp sherry
200g butter , at room temperature, plus extra for the moulds
200g caster sugar
4 medium eggs
200g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp mixed spice
zest of ½ an orange or 1 clementine
150ml sloe gin
6 tbsp apricot jam
vanilla custard, to serve
STEP 1Soak the dried fruit in the sherry overnight, or for as long as you can – even a 10-min soak will help. Butter six 200ml pudding moulds or dariole moulds.
STEP 2Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Beat the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Beat the eggs, then slowly add them to the butter and sugar using an electric whisk or mixer. Sift the flour and baking powder together, then carefully fold into the egg, butter and sugar mix using a large metal spoon. Drain the fruit and fold into the mix with the mixed spice, orange or clementine zest and 4 tbsp of the sloe gin.
STEP 3Mix the jam and the remaining sloe gin, then divide between the moulds. Spoon in the batter, filling the moulds two-thirds full. Fill another mould with any leftover mix. Cover each mould with a large square of foil with a pleat in the centre to allow room, as the sponges will rise a lot. Secure with string. Place the moulds in a baking or roasting dish, then fill the dish with water to come one-third up the side of the moulds. Bake for about 1 hr or until the sponges have risen and are cooked. The puds can now be cooled, then chilled. Reheat the same way they were cooked for 20 mins or until hot.
STEP 4To serve, remove the foil. Gently loosen the puddings with a knife and upturn them onto plates. Serve with homemade or bought custard.