I make 1/2 quantities, which serves 4-5 people.
Fabulous winter comfort food!
- 160g whole dates, stoned and roughly chopped
- 150ml boiling water
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 90g butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
- 150g light muscovado sugar
- 2 large free-range eggs
- 2 tbsp black treacle
- 175g self-raising flour
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 100ml whole milk (I use Oat Milk)
For the toffee sauce
- 225g light muscovado sugar
- Good slug brandy or rum- optional
- 100g unsalted butter, softened
- 275ml double cream (I use Oat Cream)
- 1 tbsp black treacle
- Put the dates in a mixing bowl with the water. Leave for 30 minutes until cool, then mash with a fork to a rough pulp. Stir in the vanilla and set aside. Butter a 1.2 litre ovenproof dish and set aside. Heat the oven to 170°C/fan150°C/gas 3.
- While the dates are soaking, beat the 90g butter and 150g sugar until light and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well before adding the next. Beat in the black treacle.
- Mix the flour with the bicarb and gently fold in one third using a metal spoon or balloon whisk. Fold in a third of the milk, then repeat until all the flour and milk are used up. Stir the soaked dates, with their liquid, into the batter – it may curdle, but don’t worry.
- Spoon into the prepared dish.
- Bake for 50 minutes or until the pudding is risen and firm, and a skewer pushed into the middle comes out clean (cover with foil after 40 minutes if the edges are browning too much). If the skewer comes out with what looks like uncooked mixture on it, it might be a piece of date. Taste it – if you can taste uncooked flour it will need longer.
- Meanwhile, make the toffee sauce. Put the 225g sugar, brandy, 100g butter and half the cream in a large, heavy-based pan and heat gently.
- When the sugar has dissolved, turn up the heat, stir in the treacle and bubble, stirring, for 2-3 minutes until the mix is a rich toffee colour. Take the pan off the heat and stir in the rest of the cream. Keep warm.
- Leave the pudding to cool for 20 minutes, then skewer it all over and pour over half the sauce. Leave for another 15 minutes, then serve drizzled with the rest of the sauce.
If you are making half quantities, cook for 45 minutes, but maybe check after 40 minutes!
Make the pudding up to 1 day in advance (although it’s at its absolute best on the day it’s made) and keep covered in the fridge. Bring back to room temperature and warm through in an oven heated to 170°C/fan150°C/gas 3 for 20-25 minutes, then serve with the reheated sauce.
Freeze in its dish, well wrapped in cling film, for up to 3 months. Defrost, then reheat as above. Freeze the sauce in an airtight container, defrost and reheat on the hob.