Sticky date banana pud­ding - - THIS MONTH -

serves 8| prep 15 mins | cook­ing 1 hour 5 mins

200g med­jool dates, pit­ted and chopped 1 tsp bi­car­bon­ate of soda 125g but­ter, chopped, at room tem­per­a­ture 100g (½ cup) caster sugar 2 eggs, at room tem­per­a­ture 1 tsp vanilla ex­tract 2 large ripe ba­nanas, well mashed 300g (2 cups) self-rais­ing flour 2 ba­nanas, ex­tra, halved length­ways Vanilla ice-cream, to serve

caramel sauce

100g but­ter, chopped 160g (1 cup, lightly packed) brown sugar 300ml pour­ing cream 1 Pre­heat oven to 180°C/160°C fan forced. Grease a 1.75L (7 cup) oven­proof dish. 2 Place the dates and 125ml ( 12⁄ cup) water in a saucepan and stir to com­bine. Bring to the boil over medium heat. Re­move the pan from the heat. Stir in the bi­carb and set aside to cool. 3 Use elec­tric beat­ers to beat the but­ter and caster sugar in a bowl un­til pale and creamy. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beat­ing well af­ter each ad­di­tion. Beat in the vanilla and mashed banana. Sift the flour over the bat­ter and add the soft­ened date mix­ture. Gen­tly fold un­til com­bined. 4 Spoon the mix­ture into the pre­pared dish and smooth the sur­face. Ar­range the ex­tra banana, cut side up, on top of the bat­ter, press­ing in gen­tly. Bake the pud­ding for 45-60 min­utes or un­til the cen­tre is firm to a gen­tle touch. 5 Mean­while, for the caramel sauce, place the but­ter, brown sugar and cream in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stir­ring, for 5 min­utes or un­til melted and smooth. Re­move from heat and set aside. 6 Serve the pud­ding warm, driz­zled with the caramel sauce. Top with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream.

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