“The reason that this recipe is the best I’ve ever had is because it relies on the fantastic Medjool dates, though you can use any other really high-quality dates; with muscovado sugar, subtle spices and Earl Grey tea, it makes for a winning combo. I’ve also added leftover roasted pumpkin to this version for a bit of a festive twist. It’s great served in a Bundt tin like this and looks pretty spectacular, but feel free to go old school and traybake it, if you prefer. Enjoy. ”
Put the tea bags into a jug, cover with 150ml of boiling water and leave to steep for 3½ minutes. Meanwhile, destone the dates and put into a food processor with the cinnamon and ginger, then finely grate in half the nutmeg. Scoop out the tea bags and pour the tea over the dates, pushing them down so they’re submerged. Leave them to soak with the lid on for 10 minutes. Add the roasted pumpkin or squash, then blitz to a purée, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides, which will help it along.
Butter and lightly flour a 26cm Bundt tin or a 20cm x 30cm baking dish. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugars together using a wooden spoon. Beat in the eggs, one by one then, using a large metal spoon, stir in the flour and fold in the puréed dates. Pour the pudding mixture into your chosen receptacle, then bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until an inserted skewer comes out clean.
When your pudding is almost ready, make the sauce. Cube the butter and melt in a small pan on a medium heat. Add both the sugars, then, once nicely mixed, carefully add the rum (it may splatter) and double cream. Bring to the boil, then simmer for around 5 minutes, or until a lovely deep golden colour.
As soon as the pudding is out of the oven, if using a Bundt tin, flip out onto a platter and brush all over with enough sauce to form a delicate, crispy surface but also keep your sponge nice and bouncy. Or, if you’re traybaking it in a dish, poke small holes in the top and pour over one-third of the sauce. Sprinkle with a little sea salt for contrast, and serve with the remaining sauce on the side (or save for another day) and a little double cream, Greek yoghurt, ice cream or custard, if you like.
If you don’t have any leftover roasted pumpkin or squash, simply deseed and chop 250g into 5cm chunks, and roast at 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4 for 50 minutes, or until tender.