D is for…Dates.

dates

Dates, dates, the musical fruit. The more you eat the more you… Well, let’s hope it’s not strictly true. Dates are healthy. When researching for this article I was genuinely amazed at the sheer variety of health benefits associated with eating dates.  They contain Vitamin A, Potassium, Iron, and as it turns out, they are an excellent source of dietary fibre. This means we can ‘toot’ more regularly and subsequently reduce harm to our colon membrane.

Not only that, there are few raw ingredients that have such a rich sweetness. All in all this is terrific news for me as one of my favourite desserts is Sticky Date Pudding. The thought of a fluffy, spongy pudding, with the tart richness of a caramel sauce, is already making my mouth water.  For a  dessert  with such complex flavours it is very easy to make and even easier to reheat in an oven or microwave, not that you’ll need to.

Fresh dates can be found from August until December but dried dates are available all year round and both store well for months. When choosing dried dates they should not be rock hard. Fresh dates should have no crystallised sugar on their surface and have a smooth glossy skin.

STICKY DATE PUDDING
Serves 6-8

INGREDIENTS

  • 375g (13oz) pitted dates, chopped
  • 1 ½ teaspoons of bicarbonate soda (baking soda)
  • 1 teaspoon of grated ginger
  • 90g (3 ¼ oz) unsalted butter
  • 230g (8 oz/ 1 cup) caster (superfine) sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 185g (6 ½ oz/ 1 ½ cups) self-raising flour
  • ½ teaspoon mixed spice
  • caramel sauce (see link below), to serve

METHOD

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°/Gas 4). Grease and line a deep 23cm ( 9 inch ) cake tin. Put the dates in a pan with 435ml (15fl oz/ 1 ¾ cups) water. Bring to the boil, then remove from the heat, add the bicarbonate of soda and ginger and leave to stand for 5 minutes. Cream together the butter, sugar and 1 egg. Beat in the remaining eggs, one at a time. Fold in the sifted flour and mixed spice, add the date mixture and stir until well combined. Pour into the tin and bake for 55-60 minutes, or until cooked through. Leave to stand for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a serving plate. Serve immediately with the caramel sauce and ice cream or cream.

CARAMEL SAUCE

For perfect caramel sauce I recommend this excellent blog by The Purple Foodie.