Thursday, May 8, 2014

sticky date pudding

I haven’t posted a recipe in a long while now, even though I've been cooking more now than before, I haven't been inspired enough to take pictures. Besides, I wanted to finish posting about my Canada road trip.

It took one cold, cloudy, dreary morning to change all that. It was a dilemma. On one hand, it’s the perfect weather for a bowl of warm pudding. On the other, it’s hard to take clear photos. In the end, I wanted to make this seriously sticky date pudding more than I care about lighting.

When a co-worker brought a container of his wife’s sticky date pudding to share at work, it was to be my very first encounter with the gooey dessert.

It's light yet moist in the centre. I love finding the larger pieces of roughly chopped dates in the pudding. But what made me cast my manners aside and ask for seconds is the caramel sauce. I could eat a tub of the stuff on its own.

After much convincing for the better part of two weeks, he finally gave me his Aunt Jill’s Sticky Icky Date Pudding recipe.

I bought these pre-pitted dates which saved me the time and effort of pitting them myself. All I had to do then was chop them up roughly. I left some slightly chunkier pieces to get some texture inside the pudding.

Grab a saucepan. Place the dates with 300mL of water and bring to the boil.

As soon as it comes to the boil, remove from the heat and add 1 tsp of bicarb soda.

You should expect some foaming action, don’t be alarmed. The foam will settle down. Set it aside to cool down for 10 minutes while we move on to our next task.

With a hand mixer, cream 60g of butter and 170g of sugar until it’s pale.

Add one egg at a time. Make sure that the egg is thoroughly incorporated before adding another one.

Mix in the sifted flour.

The problem with taking photos and cooking at the same time is the not having a third hand to dump the flour in while holding the hand mixer part. So in this case I did this bit with a spatula instead. But you lucky duckies with standing mixers, go ahead and add the flour into your mixture until incorporated.

By now, 10 minutes should have passed and the date mixture should have cooled down. Fold the date mixture lightly into the batter with a spatula until combined. If your batter looks a bit runny, don’t freak out, that’s how it’s meant to be.

Pour the batter into your choice of pre-lined baking tin, preferably 18cm square.

I also experimented with this taller ramekin, which I greased the inside of with butter before filling it with the batter. I find the ramekin pudding moister and more pudding-like than the baking tin pudding. So I say, go for it, experiment.

Bake them in your 180ºC pre-heated oven for about 35 minutes for the tin and 15 minutes for the ramekins.

I was checking the ramekin pudding after 10 minutes and the baking tin one after 25 minutes. I did that because I want to retain that moistness in the centre. To achieve this I'd have to take the pudding out as soon as the centre has set.

While I’m waiting for the pudding to bake, it’s time to make the super easy caramel sauce.

Combine the caramel sauce ingredients in a saucepan: 200g brown sugar, 120mL heavy cream and 150g butter.

Bring it to a gentle boil and cook for 3 minutes. Stir to mix the butter thoroughly. Set the caramel sauce aside.

As you can see from the number of little holes on my pudding’s brown surface, I checked the pudding for doneness a few times with a skewer. When it came out clean, I took the pudding out of the oven, and cooled them in the tin for 10 minutes or so before attempting to lift the pudding out of the tin.

Meanwhile I ran a knife on the inner edges of my still warm ramekin and the steamy pudding plopped out easily onto my favourite plate.

I slathered it lovingly with the caramel sauce. If your caramel sauce has gone cold, you can reheat it gently on the stovetop for 30 seconds or so until it liquefies.

After I finished taking pictures, I actually poured even more caramel sauce on top. It was one drenched pudding, baby!

As much as I wanted to keep eating, I try to be good. I kept the leftover pudding and caramel sauce in the fridge. To reheat, I place a decent piece of cold pudding on a plate, pour the cold caramel sauce on top, and reheat them in the microwave for a few seconds until the caramel sauce liquefy and runs over the side of the pudding.

Nothing much can beat a warm pudding in a cold autumn morning.

Auntie Jill’s Sticky Icky Date Pudding
Adapted from Auntie Jill's recipe

  • 250 dates, pitted and chopped roughly (yields 200g pitted)
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate soda
  • 170g caster sugar
  • 170g self-raising flour, sifted
  • 300mL water
  • 60g butter
  • 2 eggs

Caramel sauce:
  • 200g brown sugar
  • 120mL heavy (whipping) cream
  • 150g butter

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180ºC
  2. Place the dates and water in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Take it off the heat. Add 1 tsp bicarb soda. Set aside to cool down for 10 minutes.
  3. Cream the butter and sugar with a mixer until pale. Add the eggs, one at a time. Add the sifted flour. Mix well.
  4. Fold the date mixture into the flour mixture with a spatula until just combined.
  5. Line an 18cm square baking tin with baking paper. Pour batter into tin. Bake for 35 minutes. Check regularly after 25 minutes with a skewer.
  6. Make the caramel sauce by bringing the sauce ingredients gently to a boil. Boil for 3 minutes.
  7. To serve, pour some of the warm caramel sauce onto a piece of the warm pudding.

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