Life’s a Feast: Sticky date pudding


Finish off any dinner party in style, or simply treat your family with this indulgent yet simple dessert - with a twist. Everyone should have a recipe for sticky date pudding, and this one is fail-proof. Star anise, which I have used in this dessert, is a star-shaped fruit native to Vietnam and southern China. The fruit is picked just before it ripens, then sun-dried to develop its distinctive scent. It has a sweet but pungent fennel-like aroma, with notes of liquorice. It is the defining flavour in many Asian dishes from Vietnamese pho to one of the ingredients in Chinese five spice. Enjoy this twist on a common sweet delight! 





200g pitted dates
250ml boiling water
1 teaspoon baking soda
90g butter
110g brown sugar
2 eggs
150g self-raising flour

Toffee Sauce
130g butter
230ml coconut cream
250g brown sugar
5-6 whole star anise (or 1 tablespoon ground)
Kaffir Lime Cream
1 x 250ml cream
4 fresh kaffir lime leaves very thinly ensuring you take out stem


1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees and line a dish approximately 25cm x 15cm with baking paper.
2. Place the dates in a bowl and pour over boiling water. Add baking soda and let rest for 10 mins.
3. Place mixture in blender and blend until you have desired consistency with the dates _ I prefer mine quite smooth.
4. Add butter and brown sugar and blend until combined.
5. Add eggs and flour and blend until just combined. Be careful here not to over-mix or else your cake will be tough.
6. Pour into the lined dish and cook for 30 mins. To test it’s cooked, insert a wooden skewer _ if it comes out clean it’s ready or simply tap the cake and if it springs back it will be ready.
7. Leave in the dish for 5-10 mins then turn out onto a cake rack ready to serve.
8. For the sauce, place butter and star anise in a pot and melt and simmer for about 5 mins to allow the star anise to infuse, be careful not to let the butter brown. Next add the brown sugar and coconut cream and bring to the boil and cook for 5-7 mins until it thickens slightly. It will thicken more as it cools.
9. Pour cream and kaffir lime into a bowl and whip till you get soft peaks. Cut the cake in to desired serving portions, drizzle over the sauce and top with cream.
N.B. If you do not like the Asian twist, simply leave out the star anise and kaffir lime and trade the coconut cream for normal cream.