Date Pudding Cake with Sticky Toffee Sauce


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Wolfgang Puck Delicious dates are widely available, abundant and reasonably priced at the perfect moment for our celebrations. As holiday baking recipes go, this one is fairly easy. The results, however, will taste like you've spent hours in the kitchen preparing a special grand finale for the celebration.

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  • 9 oz. (280 g) chopped pitted dates
  • 1 C. (250 ml) plus 2 Tbs. water
  • 1/3 C. (80 ml) orange juice
  • 6 Tbs. unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 C. (180 ml) tightly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 C. (125 ml) granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbs. grated orange zest
  • 3 eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 C. (500 ml) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1 C. (250 ml) plus 2 Tbs. light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 C. (375 ml) heavy cream
  • 1/3 C. (80 ml) milk
  • 2 Tbs. corn syrup
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped

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First, prepare the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (180 C). (Use a regular oven, not a convection oven.) Butter and flour a 9-inch (12.5-cm) round cake pan. In a 2-quart (2-l) saucepan, combine the dates, water and orange juice. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the dates have absorbed all the liquid and pull away from the side, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Meanwhile, in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, or in a mixing bowl with a handheld electric mixer, cream together at medium speed the butter, sugars, and orange zest for 5 minutes. Scrape down the bowl. One at a time, beat in the eggs until smoothly incorporated, scraping down after each addition. Continue to mix at medium speed for 5 minutes. In another mixing bowl, sift together twice the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the date mixture and dry ingredients to the butter mixture. Mix at low speed just until the dates and dry ingredients are completely incorporated.

Fill the cake pan with the batter, which should come about two thirds of the way up its side. Bake for 20 minutes, then rotate the pan a half turn and continue to bake until the cake gives slightly to the touch and a skewer inserted into its center comes out clean, 8 to 10 minutes more. As soon as the cake goes into the oven, prepare the sauce: In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, cream, milk, corn syrup and butter. With a small, sharp knife, cut the vanilla bean lengthwise in half. With the knife tip, scrape the vanilla seeds from each half into the pan.

Over medium heat, cook the ingredients, stirring frequently, until they form a golden-brown sauce that registers 230 degrees (110 C) on a candy thermometer inserted in the pan, about 10 minutes. When the cake is done, transfer the pan to a serving plate. With a skewer, prick the top of the cake deeply several times all over its surface so the sauce will be able to seep inside. Pour half of the sauce over the cake and pour the rest into a sauceboat or serving bowl. Cut the cake into wedges, transferring them to individual serving plates. Serve warm, passing the remaining sauce alongside.

(Chef Wolfgang Puck's new TV series, "Wolfgang Puck's Cooking Class," airs Sundays and Wednesdays on the Food Network. Write Wolfgang Puck in care of Tribune Media Services Inc., 2225 Kenmore Ave., Suite 114, Buffalo, NY. 14207.)



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