Sticky date pudding is my go-to winter dessert, and the four-way layering of warming ginger only serves to solidify it as a seasonal stayer. But it’s the addition of parsnip that really makes this a show-stopper. Serve with a syrupy moat of salted caramel, plus cream and ice cream, thanks! Any left-over salted caramel sauce makes the BEST topping for ice cream … or any dessert, really.
WHAT YOU NEED
300 g (10½ oz) medjool dates (see tip), pitted and roughly chopped
2 cups (400 g) grated parsnip, plus 1 peeled and thinly sliced parsnip to garnish
2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
1 cup (190 g) crystallised ginger, sliced
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
1 cup (250 ml) ginger ale, boiling hot
250 g (9 oz) butter, melted
2 cups (370 g) loosely packed dark brown or demerara sugar
2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract
3 cups (450 g) self-raising flour
¼ teaspoon salt flakes
Salted caramel sauce
1 cup (185 g) loosely packed dark brown or demerara sugar
300 ml (10½ fl oz) thickened (whipping) cream
1 teaspoon natural vanilla extract
50 g (1¾ oz) butter
½ teaspoon salt flakes
WHAT TO DO
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Grease and line the base and sides of a 12-cup (3 litre) cake tin or high-sided baking dish.
Pop the dates and grated parsnip into a mixing bowl, along with the grated, crystallised and ground ginger and the bicarbonate of soda. Pour the boiling ginger ale over. Leave for 20 minutes to soften and cool.
In a large mixing bowl, introduce the melted butter, sugar and vanilla to each other using a wooden spoon. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Mix in the parsnip and ginger mixture, then fold in the flour and salt until just combined.
Spoon the mixture into the cake tin. Arrange the parsnip slices over the top of the pudding with some artistic flair. Bake for about 1 hour, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the pudding comes out clean. If the top looks like it’s colouring up too quickly, cover with foil for the last 15 minutes or so. Leave to cool in the cake tin on a wire rack.
Combine all the sauce ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring often, until the sauce comes to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for a few minutes until it thickens and turns from blonde to bronde. Spoon the warm pudding into serving bowls, then pour a generous ladleful of warm sauce over the top.
Tip Medjool dates are bigger and softer than the regular dates found in the baking section. Look for them in the fresh food aisle at your local greengrocer or continental delicatessen.
Shortcut If you can’t wait for the whole pudding to bake, you can zap a bit of the batter in a mug in the microwave at 30-second increments until cooked through. Scoop a blob of vanilla ice cream on top and get back to whatever show you’re binge-watching on the couch. No judgement.