This is an absolute classic British winter pudding, and often my choice if I’m ever out for a pub lunch (which, quite frankly, isn’t that frequent an occurrence in student life). Somewhat shockingly, I’d never actually tried to make my own before a few days ago, but I am so very glad that I did. Adapting an extremely highly-rated recipe from trusty old BBC Good Food, I had high hopes, and I was not disappointed. Very easy to make – and even easier to eat! – it went down a treat at our big family party yesterday.
I baked my cake in a large brownie tin the day before, and after it had cooled, cut it into squares and wrapped in foil. Then while we were all eating our main course, I whacked the foiled up package in the oven to warm through, and it was as if it was freshly baked. I also made the super yummy sauce in advance and just kept it in the fridge – a quick zap in the microwave is all it needs before being drizzled on top of the sponge (and preferably topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!) This really is delightfully sticky, and the sponge would be delicious by itself, perhaps with afternoon tea. If fussy children don’t like the sound of dates, they needn’t fear, as you can’t actually pick up either the texture or taste of them in this. They’re just like little fudgey morcels of deliciousness (and who wouldn’t want that?)
I kid you not, I would eat the sauce with a spoon by itself. But then again my sweet tooth is beyond ridiculous. It’s also yummy over ice cream, just don’t tell any weightwatchers the ingredients! Or maybe just tell them to go easy. It’s a deliciously decadent pudding, no-one should deprive themselves. I used a 25x33cm tin, making 18 squares, but they weren’t very deep pieces so you could always use a smaller tin, just be careful not to over-bake it. And don’t forget to take your eggs and butter out of the fridge well in advance.
200g dried dates, stoned and chopped
250ml black tea (not too strong)
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
85g unsalted butter, softened
175g self-raising flour
1 tsp mixed spice
175g golden caster sugar
150g light muscovado sugar
150g unsalted butter
200ml double cream
1. Heat the oven to 180C and grease and line your tin or ovenproof dish. Put the dates and tea in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Cook for 3-4 minutes to soften the dates, stirring as you go. Stir in the bicarbonate of soda – it will fizzle and turn into a bit of a mush.
2. Beat the butter and caster sugar together with electric beaters until pale and creamy, then beat in the egg, flour and mixed spice. Fold in the date mixture and pour into the tin. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the top is just firm to touch and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Once out of the oven, go round the edge of the tin with a palate knife and leave to cool completely before turning out of the tin.
3. To make the sauce, put the sugar, butter and cream in a pan over a low heat and simmer until the sugar has dissolved. Cook until the sauce is a lovely toffee colour.
4. Cut the pudding into squares and serve with the warm sauce and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Mmmmmm… A comfort pudding at its best.