Some of my oldest and dearest friends came to visit me at Christmas. I had found winter up until then pretty hard going and the prospect that there wasn’t an end in sight was rather depressing.
When Team arrived, however, everything suddenly seemed so much less dreary even though the snow still lay unassailably thickly on the ground.
They made my birthday – a week before Christmas – one of the top two I’ve ever celebrated. We ate cinnamon buns Anna made for breakfast, opened presents, went to the casino, danced and ate some kebabs with Leon’s winnings on the way back.
I had a list as long as my arm of things I wanted us to cook and eat together and one of them was sticky date pudding. That time, it was a baked one and it tasted especially sweet with my friends around me but this one, another Daring Bakers challenge is perhaps a little more authentic, being steamed the traditional way.
It’s a little springlike to be tucking into such a heavy dessert perhaps but nevertheless, I’ve managed to make impressive inroads into it in the two hours since I made it and it tasted all the sweeter remembering the one I ate with Team.
Do things taste better to you when you’re with the people you love?
Steamed Sticky Date Pudding with Butterscotch Sauce
The April 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Esther of The Lilac Kitchen. She challenged everyone to make a traditional British pudding using, if possible, a very traditional British ingredient: suet. I wasn’t so keen on the idea of fat from around organs so I flagged it and made this instead.
For the Pudding
150 grams pitted fresh dates
150 ml water
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Bring the dates and water to the boil in a small pot and simmer a few minutes, breaking the dates up with a wooden spoon. Remove from heat and mix in the baking soda.
30 grams of softened butter
75 grams sugar
2 small beaten eggs
90 grams flour
Cream together the butter and sugar, then beat in the eggs one at a time.
Beat in the date mixture, then finally fold in the flour until combined.
Pour the mixture into a buttered pudding bowl with at least 800 ml capacity. Cover with greaseproof paper and tie it on around the rim with butcher’s twine.
In a pot large enough to comfortably hold the bowl, place a ring of foil to keep the bowl from touching the bottom of the pot.
Pour in enough water to come about half way up the sides of the bowl, place the bowl atop the foil and put the lid on the pot.
Steam on medium until you hear the water boiling, then lower heat to its lowest setting and steam 1 hour.
Leave to cool a little before removing the lid.
Remove the paper and twine and ease a knife around the edges, before turning out onto a plate.
For the Butterscotch Sauce
110 grams brown sugar
60 grams butter
180 ml cream
Heat in a small pot until smooth and serve with the pudding. I used salted butter since that’s all I can get but if you use unsalted, add a bit of salt too, to make the flavour pop.