Sticky date pudding with caramel sauce

Sunday Life, The Age, Karen Martini. To quote:

This old favourite is a cinch to make. Served warm out of the oven, you'll find it wickedly addictive. Ice-cream or cream is a must.

Caramel Sauce

Preheat oven to 180C.

Grease a large 5cm-deep round ceramic baking dish or a 25 x 35cm rectangular baking dish. Combine dates and water in a small pan over medium heat. Cook for 5-8 minutes or until dates are very soft. Add bicarbonate of soda and stir, then set aside to cool.

Beat butter and sugar in a bowl with an electric mixer until thick and pale, then add eggs one at a time, beating well after each. Fold in vanilla, date mixture and then the flour. Spoon mixture into dish and bake for 20-25 minutes or until springy to the touch.

Meanwhile, for caramel sauce, combine all ingredients in a small pan and stir over medium heat until boiling. Simmer for 2 minutes or until combined and glossy. Pour sauce over pudding and bake for a further 5 minutes.

Serve warm with vanilla ice-cream or cream.

If you want to make the date pudding ahead of time, simply bake it without pouring the sauce on top. When you're ready to serve, reheat the pudding in the oven (or in slices in the microwave) and serve with warm caramel sauce poured over.

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