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This pudding was invented by Francis Coulson at the Sharrow Bay Hotel in Cumbria, one of England’s original country house hotels, in the 1970s.  Although the staff has been sworn to secrecy about the original recipe, it apparently included equal amounts of dates, sugar and self- rising flour.

For the pudding:

1 cup dates, pitted and chopped

1 cup boiling water

3 tablespoons butter, plus more for greasing


1 teaspoon baking soda

1/3 cup plus 1 teaspoon Demerara sugar

1/3 cup plus 1 teaspoon dark brown sugar

2 eggs

7/8 cup flour

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


For the toffee topping:

5 tablespoons butter

1 cup cream

3/8 cup dark brown sugar

For the “extra” sauce:

3 tablespoons butter

1-1/4 cup cream, plus more for serving if you like

3 tablespoons dark brown sugar

  1. Put the dates into a bowl and cover with the boiling water to soften, at least 5 minutes. Heat the oven to 350* and grease a 9 by 13 inch baking dish.
  1. Combine the 3 tablespoons butter, baking soda, a pinch of salt, Demerara sugar, 1/3 cup plus 1 teaspoon dark brown sugar, eggs, flour and vanilla extract in a food processor and pulse until just combined. Add the dates and water into the mixture; pulse until nearly smooth (specks of dates should remain visible.)
  1. Pour the mixture into the baking dish and bake for about 30 minutes, until just firm to the touch. (When the pudding has finished baking, remove from the oven and heat the broiler.  Put the rack about 4 inches from the heat source.)
  1. Meanwhile, make the topping. Melt 5 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan over medium heat, then slowly add 1 cup cream and 3/8 cup dark brown sugar, whisking continuously until the mixture bubbles gently and comes together to form a smooth mixture; turn off heat.
  1. In another small saucepan over medium heat, make the extra sauce. Melt 3 tablespoons butter then slowly add 1-1/4 cups cream and 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar.  Repeat the process above.
  1. Pour the topping (careful not to use the extra sauce) over the cooked pudding and place the whole thing under the broiler until it bubbles and looks sticky, 3 to 4 minutes. To serve, spoon into bowls and cover with extra sauce.  If you like, add a dollop of whipped cream.


from Chef Simon Hopkinson, founder of the Bibendum Restaurant in London (printed in the New York Times by Mark Bittman)

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