Serves 4-6

You can't believe it is going to work, with a whole fruit in the middle of the pudding. But the lemon serves two purposes: it holds up the pudding, at the same time as the flavour filters into the buttery sauce and on into the pastry as it cooks. When you turn it out the dish becomes a pond of delicious sweet lemony syrup. You will need a 1½litre pudding basin. string and foil.

250g self-raising flour
125g shredded beef suet or vegetable suet
150ml milk
300g unsalted butter, softened
200g soft light brown sugar
1 large lemon

Mix the flour and suet together in a bowl. Mix into a dough with the milk. The dough should be soft but sufficiently firm to roll out into a circle large enough to line the pudding basin. Cut a quarter out of the circle, so that you can make a cone shape with the dough to fit more easily in the pudding basin, and leaving you leftover dough for the lid. Put this slice of dough aside. Butter a pudding basin well and drop the pastry into it, flattening it at the bottom, and joining up the edges where the slice was taken out.

Mix the sugar and butter together and put it into the lined basin. Prick the lemon all over as much as you can with a roasting fork or skewer so that the juices can escape, then push it into the butter mixture. Remould the pastry for the top and roll it out into a circle to fit the top of the pudding bowl. Lay it over the filling and press the edges of the dough together so that the filling is sealed in. Take a piece of foil big enough to fit over the basin and with at least an extra 5cm all round. Make a pleat down the middle of the foil, place it over the top of the basin and tie in place with string round the top edge or like a parcel with a string handle so it can be lifted in and out of a saucepan.

Bring a large pan half-filled with water to the boil and lower in the pudding. Cover and leave to simmer for 4 hours. Don't let the water stop boiling, and if the level drops lift up the basin and top up the pan with more boiling water.

To serve, lift out, remove the foil and loosen the sides with a small sharp knife. (It can be kept hot for another hour or so until it's needed.) Put a deep dish over the basin and quickly turn the whole thing upside down.