Tuesday 12th December 2017
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Serves
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 1 hour

Ingredients
For the sponge
125g dates with stones removed
100g raisins
175g boiling water
1 tsp vanilla extract
175g self-raising flour, plus extra for greasing
2 large free-range eggs
85g butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
140g demerara sugar
2 tbsp black treacle
100ml milk

For the toffee sauce
175g light muscovado sugar
50g butter, cut into pieces
225ml double cream
1 tbsp black treacle

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Recipe by Dominic Franks, Belleau Kitchen

With all the furore of The Great British Bake Off finally over… well done Nancy, flying the flag proudly for Lincolnshire. I feel that I can finally admit that, whilst I’m all for rules and regulations in life, I’ve never been particularly happy about what it is that makes the perfect bake.

My mum never blind-baked her pastry cases, the pastry was always perfectly fine and that’s how we liked it; it’s how I learned to do it and I won’t have anyone tell me that my soggy bottom is wrong. Surely it’s all down to personal taste?

I feel the same way about puddings and cakes. I’ve always erred on the side of a gooey, pudding-like cake; that’s just how I’ve always made them. I like the dense structure, preferably oozing with some kind of sticky sauce and then swimming in a bath of cream. How could anyone not call this perfect?

You might be thinking, What is it that makes these ‘Lincolnshire’? Well, not much really but what I’ve done is taken out half the usual amount of dates and replaced them with juicy raisins so that this pudding has a Lincolnshire Plum Loaf quality to it.

METHOD
Chop the fruit quite small and place in a bowl. Pour the boiling water over and leave for about 30 mins until cool and well-soaked, then mash a bit with a fork and stir in the vanilla extract.

Butter seven mini pudding tins or silicon bundt moulds as I’ve used and sit them on a baking sheet. Heat oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4.

While the dates are soaking, make the puddings. Mix the flour and spices together and beat the eggs in a separate bowl.

Beat the butter and sugar together in a large bowl for a few minutes until slightly creamy. Add the eggs a little at a time, beating well between additions. Beat in the black treacle then, using a large metal spoon, gently fold in one-third of the flour, then half the milk, being careful not to overbeat. Repeat until all the flour and milk is used. Stir the soaked dates and raisins into the pudding batter. Spoon it evenly between the tins and bake for 20–25 mins, until risen and firm.

Meanwhile, put the sugar and butter for the sauce in a medium saucepan with half the cream. Bring to the boil over a medium heat, stirring all the time, until the sugar has completely dissolved. Stir in the black treacle, turn up the heat slightly and let the mixture bubble away for 2–3 mins until it is a rich toffee colour – stirring occasionally to make sure it doesn’t burn. Take the pan off the heat and beat in the rest of the cream.

Remove the puddings from the oven. Leave in the tins for a few minutes, then loosen them well from the sides of the tins with a small palette knife before turning them out. You can serve them now with the sauce drizzled over, but they’ll be even stickier if left for a day or two coated in the sauce.

When ready to serve, heat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Warm the puddings through, still covered, for 15–20 mins or until the sauce is bubbling. Serve them on their own, or with cream or custard.

Eat and of course, enjoy!

Don’t forget to follow Dom on his blog www.belleaukitchen.com

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