“I’ve got a friend who comes to tea, And no-one else can see but me, He came today, but had to go. To visit you? You never know!” Bucks Fizz, ‘The Land of Make Believe’
The cold winter of 1981 into 1982 brought the country to a standstill. Schools were shut, and children played endlessly in the snow. Sam and I would return home to the warmth of my bedroom, in our own little white bubble, disconnected from the world. This was our reality. Me, her, Mike and Bobby G. Playing music, singing, dancing and dressing up. The snow made others prisoners in their own homes, but it gave us the most freedom we had ever had before. We were living in our dream.
And this is the ultimate comfort pudding; warm, gooey, euphoric.
Pudding: 225g (8oz) pitted dates * 85g (3oz) softened butter * 200g (7oz) demerara sugar * 225g (8oz) self-raising flour * 2 medium eggs * 2 tbsp golden syrup * 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
Sauce: 75g (9 floz) butter * 75g (9 floz) dark brown muscovado sugar * 250ml (9 floz) double cream * 2 tbsp golden syrup
Pre-heat oven to 180°C/350°C/Gas 4. Grease and line the base and sides of an 18 x 25.5cm (7inchx10inch) roasting tin with baking paper. Put dates into a food processor and pour in 145ml (¼ pint) just-boiled water. Leave to soak for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl beat together butter, demerara sugar, flour, eggs and golden syrup with an electric hand whisk until smooth. Blitz the date mixture to a purée, then pulse in bicarbonate of soda. Fold date purée into the batter until well combined. Transfer to the prepared tin and bake for 50min or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Meanwhile, make the toffee sauce: melt butter in a medium pan. Add sugar, double cream and golden syrup. Bring to the boil, stirring often, and simmer for 3-5min until thickened. Serve the warm cake in squares, drizzled generously with sauce (re-heat if needed) and custard.
Custard: 570ml (1 pint) milk * 55ml (2 floz) single cream * ½ tsp vanilla extract * 4 eggs, yolks only * 30g (1oz) caster sugar * 2 level tsp cornflour
Bring the milk and cream to simmering point slowly over a low heat. Add the vanilla extract. Whisk the yolks, sugar and cornflour together in a bowl until well blended. Pour the hot milk and cream on to the eggs and sugar, whisking all the time with a balloon whisk. Return to the pan, and stir gently over a low heat with a wooden spatula until thickened. Pour the custard into a jug and serve at once.
I have collated all my favourite recipes into one book, FOOD FOR ALL OCCASIONS.
There are more recipes in the section TRADITIONAL PUDDINGS, a selection of the best of British cakes and desserts.