Date Pudding

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Preparation Time: 20 minutes, plus making the sauce
Cooking Time: 1½ hours on HIGH

Ingredients

  • 100 g/ oz/heaped ½ cup pitted dates, chopped
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 75 g/ oz butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
  • 100 g/ oz/scant ½ cup caster sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 125 g/ oz/1 cup self-raising white flour
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 recipe quantity Dark Toffee Sauce, to serve
  • vanilla ice cream, to serve (optional)

Method

Put an upturned heatproof saucer in the slow cooker. Grease a 15 cm/6 in soufflé dish or 750 ml/26 fl oz/3-cup heatproof dish that will fit on top of the saucer with the cooker lid in place. Cut out a circle of foil to cover the top of the dish with a 2.5 cm/1 in overhang and leave to one side.

Put the dates, bicarbonate of soda and 200 ml/7 fl oz/scant 1 cup water in a saucepan over a medium heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, until the dates are softened. Remove the pan from the heat and leave to cool slightly.

Put the butter and sugar in a large bowl and beat until light and fluffy, then beat in the egg and the vanilla extract. Sift the flour and salt into the bowl and beat it in. Add the dates and their soaking liquid and fold in.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared dish and smooth the surface. Cover the dish with cling film, then with the foil, and tie a piece of string tightly around the rim of the dish to secure it. Put the dish on top of the saucer, then pour enough boiling water into the container to reach halfway up the side of the dish.

Cover the cooker with the lid and cook on HIGH for 1½ hours until the pudding is firm to the touch and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Remove the date pudding from the cooker. Carefully remove the foil and cling film and leave to stand in the dish for 2 minutes. Serve with hot Dark Toffee Sauce and scoops of ice cream, if you like.