Like half the Antipodean population, I watch Masterchef Australia occasionally. It’s a good pinprick of realism to my aspirations of being a kitchen goddess; the massive innate talent on the show is plain scary. And every so often, I click onto the Masterchef Australia website to drool at the recipes. This one by Rachel McSweeney caught my eye.
My introduction to dates was by sheer accident, – I thought I was purchasing a plain scone at the work cafeteria, but it came with these fantastic sweet, chewy brown bits. I was immediately smitten.
Since then, I’ve had sticky date pudding in many guises, in restaurants and store-bought, I’ve had great ones, and I’ve had ones which were so blah, I couldn’t believe I paid for it. But I had never attempted to bake one, it’s just one of those things (when you don’t grow up with a particular dish, you think it’s more difficult to make than it actually is). But that’s all changed because this wonderful recipe is so simple – the trickiest part is actually chopping the dates (you can also purchase them pre-diced)!
I halved the original recipe which was meant for 12 people, and it still serves 8 generously. If you want to make the larger size, double the recipe, use a 26 inch springform tin and bake for 60 minutes.
170g dried pitted dates, chopped
1 tsp baking soda
170g brown sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
170g self-raising flour
Butterscotch sauce ingredient:
200g brown sugar
Preheat oven to 160°C. Line a loaf tin with baking paper and grease (I used a cooking spray).
Place dates, baking soda and water into a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring, until dates break down (around 5 minutes). I mashed some of the dates as I was stirring to help break them down faster. Turn off heat and cool slightly (I left it for 15 minutes).
Add butter, stir until melted and fully combined. Then, mix in brown sugar, add eggs and vanilla and whisk well to combine.
Fold in sifted flour until just combined.
Pour into prepared tin and bake for 40 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Cool in tin.
For the butterscotch sauce, place all ingredients into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes until golden.
Serve with a generous ladle of sauce and a scoop of vanilla ice-cream. The cake should be warm, – I reheat each slice for 20 seconds in the microwave before serving.