Some desserts beg to be eaten when frost is in the air and friends and family gather for casual, spirit-raising meals. Europeans often leave desserts out that require individuals to portion for themselves. The Italians serve their coffee soak ladyfinger custard, Tiramisu, in large baking dishes for guests to dig into, cozy French family-run bistros bring chocolate mousse in large vintage bowls to be scooped table side, and the Swedes wouldn't consider pre slicing a Princess Cake at a gathering-the beautiful mint green, rose topped, outer layer would lose its visual impact. This 1970's English lake house concoction is similarly disposed for digging into by hungry skiers who may not make it to dinner without a hearty body and soul-warming pick me up. It may be made in individual serving dishes, but where is the fun in that? Sharing food is one of life's greatest pleasures....pass the spoons and dig on in!



cuisine British
difficulty Challenging
season Winter
serves 12

Ingredients for the cake

  • 10 ounces Medjool dates, pitted
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons Madagascar bourbon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs

for the toffee sauce

  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 pound brown sugar
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons dark rum

For the Madagascar bourbon vanilla whipped cream

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons Madagascar bourbon pure vanilla extract


  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Butter an 8 x 12-inch baking dish and set aside.
  2.  Put the dates in a pot and cover with water. Place over high heat and bring to a boil. Cook for 3 minutes and remove from heat. Strain and allow to cool. When dates are cool enough to handle, peel and chop them.
  3.  Return the dates to the pot and add 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in the baking soda and vanilla. The mixture will bubble and foam. Set aside to cool.
  4.  Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.
  5.  In the bowl of electric mixer, mix the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and stir until well blended.
  6.  Add the date mixture and the flour mixture alternating (1/3 of each at a time) to the sugar/butter mixture stirring until all is well combined.
  7.  Pour the batter into the prepared dish and bake 40-45 minutes, or until brown and a skewer inserted into center of cake comes out clean. Cut the cake into 5 rows of 3 squares, but do not remove from the dish.
  8.  While the cake is baking, make the toffee sauce. Melt the butter and brown sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring, until the butter is melted and the sugar is dissolved, about 7 minutes. Stir in the cream and bring the mixture to a boil (watch carefully so that it doesn’t boil over). Remove from the heat and stir in the rum.
  9.  Pour half the sauce over the baked pudding, allowing it to seep down into it. Return the dish to the oven for 5 minutes.
  10.  Remove cake from the oven and let cool 15 minutes.
  11.  In the bowl of an electric mixer or with the whisk attachment of an immersion blender, beat heavy cream until desired consistency. Add the vanilla and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  12.  Serve cake topped with a dollop of freshly whipped cream and pass the remaining sauce at the table.