Dish type: Dessert
Preparation and cooking time: 55 minutes
150g dates, stoned and chopped
150 dried figs, chopped
250ml black tea, made with 1 teabag
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
85g softened unsalted butter, plus extra butter for greasing
175g caster sugar
2 large free-range eggs, beaten
175g self-raising flour, sieved
the zest of 1 orange
1 teaspoon ground mixed spice
For the sauce
200g light muscovado sugar
200g unsalted butter
300ml double cream
vanilla ice cream, or clotted cream, to serve
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas 4. Butter 6 individual (dariole) pudding moulds. Place the dates in a small pan, then cover with the hot tea. Bring to the boil and cook for 3-4 minutes until the dates have softened, then stir in the bicarbonate of soda.
2. As when baking a cake, cream together the butter and sugar before adding the eggs, one at a time. Fold in the flour, mixed spice and date mixture, then pour into the baking dish.
3. Make the sauce by putting the sugar, butter and cream into a pan. Place over a low heat and melt the sugar until it has dissolved, then whack the heat up and simmer for 3-4 minutes or until the sauce is a light toffee colour.
4. Pour half the sauce between 6 individual pudding (Dariole) moulds, saving half back to be used as a pouring sauce. Fill to 5mm from the top with the cake mixture. Cover each mould or ramekin with a square of pleated buttered tin foil (the pleat in the middle of the foil will help the foil to expand once the pudding starts to rise). Secure with string or an elastic band.
5. Place the puds onto a roasting tray with 1.5cm of boiling water in it and bake for 20-25 minutes until the top is springy and a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the cake. The water creates steam and a mighty lift for the puddings.
6. Serve the puddings by removing and the lids, tipping them onto a plate with the rest of the warm sauce and a big scoop of vanilla ice cream or clotted cream.