Sean Macentee

This rich, satisfying date sponge pudding is traditionally baked but also works very well when steamed. Served with a rich butterscotch sauce and ice-cream, it’s the ultimate indulgence!

(Serves 8-10)

For the sponge:

400g dates, stones removed, chopped
425 ml hot water
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
180g butter, softened
180g soft brown sugar
3 free-range eggs
400g self-raising flour
1 tbsp mixed spice
1 tbsp baking powder

1. Preheat oven to 175°C.
2. Grease a baking tin (approx. 400 x 400 mm) with a generous amount of butter. If using a solid tin, line it using a strip of greased parchment paper approx. 300 x 500 mm – so that the edges of the paper hang over the edge of the tin. If using a tin with a removable base you do not need to line it with paper.
3. Place the dates in a saucepan and add the hot water. Place over a medium heat and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and allow to simmer for 5 minutes. Add the bicarbonate of soda and simmer for a further 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.
4. Sift the flour and mixed spice together.
5. Beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
6. Add the eggs one at a time, adding a spoonful of the flour/spice mix after each egg. Once incorporated, add the next egg and a little more flour/spice until everything is mixed well.
7. Add the cooled dates and beat them through the mixture.
8. Transfer to the greased baking tin. Tap the tin a few times to settle the mixture, then bake for approx 30-40 minutes.
9. The pudding is cooked when a skewer or the tip of a knife can be inserted into its centre and remains clean when withdrawn.

For the butterscotch:

125g butter
125g soft dark brown sugar
500 ml double cream

1. Place all ingredients in a heavy-bottomed pan and heat over a medium-low flame.
2. Once bubbling, reduce the heat to its lowest setting and leave the sauce to reduce for 10 minutes. It will darken and thicken.

To serve, place a slice of the warm pudding in a bowl and pour over some of the hot sauce.
The pudding can be refrigerated and reheated in either the microwave or, if covered, in the oven – as can the sauce.