The second weekend of June each year brings to me the same realisation, that winter is officially here in Australia and that it’s not going to get ANY warmer for the next 3 months! (Actually, I shouldn’t complain too much and also mention that the second weekend of June brings the consolation prize of a day off to celebrate the Queens Birthday!)
While I don’t have anything against winter personally, I just don’t like the cold! I have to admit I enjoy the change in seasons and I love watching the tree-lined streets of Melbourne become bare and wintery as the final autumn leaves fall to their resting place on the ground. I also enjoy the fact that with a change in temperature comes a whole new array of seasonal produce and a whole new winter menu of food to cook and enjoy! Winter is one of my favourite times to spend in the kitchen. Dinners that were once vegetables, salad and BBQ’d meat are now able to be transformed into slow cooked casseroles, curries, pies and roasts. When it comes to baked goods, well winter is designed to indulge in richer sweets (who wants to eat cold fruit when its cold outside!) Instead think puddings, crumbles and warm cakes.
Alex had his heart set on producing a sticky date pudding way back in summer(!), so we decided to celebrate winter and our long weekend by making a delicious sticky date pudding complete with butterscotch sauce and home-made vanilla bean ice cream.
On a dreary Friday, I whipped up the puddings and I have to admit making them was a risk as, because we were unable to locate a texan muffins pan (i.e. one that has 6 2/3 cup capacity moulds) I had to settle for some ramekins I found in my local $2 shop. I had to guesstimate the amount of mixture to put in each ramekin and I must confess that the first one I made, was pulled out of the oven with half the mixture having over flowed onto the tray. This was not necessarily a bad thing in the end as I was able to sneakily taste the mixture – it was delicious! Despite this small game of trial and error, we managed to produce the puddings and spent Sunday morning admiring them as we took the photos.
By the afternoon we had worked up an appetite and we were treated to lunch from Hook’d with Alex’s parents, who were visiting from Hobart. We then wandered through Chapel Street Bazaar for hidden treasures before just missing the rain shower as we walked back home. By the afternoon, the puddings, warm, gooey and full of caramel goodness were waiting for us, begging to be eaten. They tasted divine and like all good puddings were best enjoyed when it’s cold and wet outside. Despite the gloomy shadow of winter, I would not have asked for a better way to spend Sunday.
We hope you brighten up your winter too and make a date to enjoy these comforting and oh so yummy puddings.
- 250g (1½ cups) deseeded dried dates, roughly chopped into small pieces
- 312ml (1¼ cups) water
- 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
- 60g (1/4 cup) salted butter, chopped roughly
- 2 large eggs (we use eggs with a minimum weight of 59g)
- 1 teaspoon (5ml) vanilla extract
- 188g (1¼ cups) self-raising flour
- 150g (2/3 cup, firmly packed) brown sugar
- Peacans for decorating
- 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
- 60g butter
- 300ml pure cream
- 2 cups full fat milk
- 2 cups thickened ( or heavy) cream
- 1 cup granulated white sugar
- 1 whole vanilla bean, halved and seeds scraped
- 5 large egg yolks
- 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- Place the dates and the water in a medium sauce pan over a high heat.
- When the date mixture starts to boil, add the bicarb soda and the butter and remove from the heat.
- Set saucepan aside and allow mixture to cool for 25 mins. During this time the butter will melt.
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius (356 Fahrenheit) If you have a fan forced oven preheat it to 160 degrees celsius (320 Fahrenheit).
- Grease 6⅔ cup capacity muffin pans or ramekins.
- Transfer the date mixture to a medium mixing bowl.
- Using a hand-held beater or whisk, add the eggs and vanilla to date mixture until combined ( this should take less than 30 seconds).
- Mix the flour and brown sugar together, breaking up any lumps of sugar.
- Add the flour/sugar mixture to the date mixture and fold through until combined.
- Spoon mixture into prepared pans.
- Bake for 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.
- Allow to cool in pans for 5 mins and then turn upside down on a plate.
- Smother with butterscotch sauce and serve with ice cream and crushed or crumbled pecans ontop.
- Place sugar, butter and cream in a saucepan over medium heat.
- Cook, stirring, without boiling, for 4 minutes or until sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil.
- Once at the boil, reduce heat to low.
- Simmer for 5 minutes or until thickened.
- In a medium saucepan, over a medium heat, whisk together the milk, cream, half the sugar and vanilla bean ( including the pod).
- Bring the milk mixture just to the boil.
- while the milk mixture is heating ( ie before it is just at the boil), combine the yolks and the remaining sugar in a mixing bowl and using a hand-held beater on slow speed or a whisk, beat until thick and pale.
- Once the milk mixture has come to a slight boil, whisk about ⅓ of the hot milk mixture into the yolk mixture.
- Whisk another ⅓ of the hot milk mixture to the yolk mixture.
- Return the yolk mixture to the remaining ⅓ of milk mixture in the saucepan.
- Using a wooden spoon, stir the mixture constantly over low heat until it thickens slightly and coats the back of a wooden spoon.
- This mixture must not boil or the yolks will over cook - the process should only take a few minutes.
- Pour the mixture through a sieve or mesh strainer and discard the vanilla pod.
- Bring this mixture to room temperature.
- Once cooled, cover and refrigerate for 1-2 hours or overnight.
- Churn the ice cream in an ice cream maker according to manufactures instructions.