Ruby Tandoh, a former contestant of The Great British Bakeoff, shares her savory and sweet creations from the oven in Crumb.
This is arguably the ultimate comfort food. Whenever I’m in need of something gratuitously indulgent to see me through a weepy film or a cold winter evening, I seek solace in caramel: cubes of chocolate-covered caramel; butter toffees to weld my mouth shut; dark, syrupy sponge cakes; and even, at lower ebbs, caramelized condensed milk (dulce de leche), spooned straight from the can. This pudding, however, has always been my favorite. Dates have a natural toffee-like edge to them, and when added to this moist sponge pudding and flooded with caramel sauce, they become as stickily sweet and chewy as if they were chunks of fudge themselves.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease the pan and line it with parchment paper.
- Combine the dates and baking soda in a bowl, then pour in the boiling water. Set aside while you prepare the remaining ingredients. You’ll find that the baking soda quickly softens the dates.
- In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Add the egg and vanilla extract and stir to combine. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, and cocoa powder. Add to the butter mixture, along with the date mixture (water and all) and whisk lightly to combine. Stir in the nuts.
- Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until a knife inserted in the center emerges with only a crumb or two stuck to it.
- While the pudding bakes, prepare the caramel sauce. In a small pan, heat the sugar, cream, butter, molasses, and salt over low heat, stirring occasionally, until combined. Increase the heat slightly and let bubble for a minute or two. Serve the pudding cut into generous portions (how else?) with a ladleful of sauce over each.
Reprinted with permission from Crumb by Ruby Tandoh, copyright (c) 2015. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Penguin Random House, Inc.