Pudding? It's a date

I'm a great fan of sticky date puddings and cakes. However, when topped with toffee sauce, which is the norm, they can be tooth-achingly sweet.

But this cake is not. It has a musky, spicy, sweetness which is more reminiscent of a gingerbread. Drenching the cake with a citrus syrup mutes any overt sweetness and adds a luscious moistness, making it just a little more sticky, aromatic and seductive.

This is a particularly appealing cake and simple to make. It will keep happily for 4-5 days in an airtight container.


Photo: Peter McIntosh
Photo: Peter McIntosh
Sticky date gingerbread with citrus syrup

Makes 16 slices

250g dried pitted dates
¾ tsp baking soda|
1 cup (250ml) boiling water
80g dark cane sugar
50g butter, softened
¼ cup golden syrup
2 large eggs
200g self raising flour
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp each ground nutmeg and cloves

Citrus syrup
60g sugar
zest of 1 orange
3 Tbsp orange juice
3 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp Cointreau or other citrus based liqueur or orange juice

zest of 1-2 oranges

Preheat the oven to 180degC on bake. Line the base of a 22-23cm round cake tin with non-stick baking paper and lightly oil the sides.

Coarsely chop the dates. I usually cut each date into three pieces using the kitchen scissors.

Place dates in a heatproof bowl, sprinkle the baking soda over the dates and pour the boiling water over the top. Set aside for about 5 minutes. Mash with a potato masher.

Set aside to cool.

Beat sugar, butter, golden syrup and eggs together with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy. The mixture will probably curdle but this does not matter. Stir the date mixture into the beaten eggs and sugar.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour and spices. Make a well in the centre and pour in the combined date, eggs and sugar mixture. Stir gently until well combined. This is quite a wet mixture.

Pour into the prepared cake tin, smooth the top and bake in the pre-heated oven for 30 to 35 minutes until golden, the top feels firm to the touch and a skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool completely in the tin.

Citrus syrup
A hot syrup spooned over a cold cake is more readily absorbed than if both cake and syrup are hot.

Place the sugar, orange zest, orange and lemon juices into a small saucepan and slowly bring to the boil, stirring constantly.

Simmer for 2 minutes then remove from the heat. Add the Cointreau and stir.

When the cake is cold, drizzle the hot syrup evenly over the cold cake until it is all absorbed.

Wait about 40 minutes until all the syrup has been absorbed.

Slide a knife between the sides of the tin and the cake to loosen it.

To ensure the top surface of the cake has a smooth unblemished surface, place a piece of non-stick baking paper on a large flat plate and carefully invert the cake on to this.

Peel off the baking paper, turn cake right side up and gently remove the non-stick paper. Scatter the orange zest around the edges of the cake.

This makes a divinely delicious pudding or serve as a luxurious little treat with coffee.

Serve with thick plain yoghurt or whipped cream.

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