- 250 g chopped, pitted dates
- 1 t bicarbonate of soda
- 1 cup boiling water
- 115 g butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing
- 200 g sugar
- 2 extra-large free-range eggs, beaten
- 240 g flour
- 1 t baking powder
- ½ t salt
- 100 g walnuts, lightly roasted and chopped
- whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, for serving
- For the sauce:
- 250 g sugar
- 1 T butter
- ¾ cup water
- 1 t vanilla extract
- a pinch salt
- ½ cup brandy
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Divide the dates in half. Add the bicarbonate of soda to one half and pour over the boiling water. Stir, then allow to cool.
Cream the butter and sugar, add the beaten eggs and mix well.
Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt, then fold into the butter mixture. Add the remaining dates and the walnuts. Stir in the date-and-bicarbonate of soda mixture and mix well. Turn into a greased ovenproof dish and bake for 40–50 minutes.
To make the sauce, heat the sugar, butter and water for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla, salt and brandy. Pour the syrup over the hot pudding as soon as it comes out the oven. Serve hot, with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
Cook's note: This traditional recipe, tipsy with brandy, stands up to the much-loved malva pudding.