Sticky pud:

Richard has a sweet and sticky treat for those cold Novem­ber nights

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Richard Hughes has a proper win­ter dessert for you

We are into the month of hearty stews, slow cooked hot pots, game braises, steam­ing pies and pud­dings. Novem­ber is not a pop­u­lar month, of­ten dark and dreary, yet in terms of food, it’s one of my favourites.

Much as I love sum­mer fruits and ice cream sun­daes, you can’t beat a proper pud­ding for dessert, with pints of cus­tard, cream or, as in this case, a de­li­ciously dark tof­fee sauce. You can call this month’s recipe a cake or a pud­ding; it won’t make a jot of dif­fer­ence to how good it tastes. It’s an ideal treat for Hal­loween and Guy Fawkes.

As a child Novem­ber seemed to be one of the most ex­cit­ing months of the year. Novem­ber 5 ri­valling Christ­mas Day in the an­tic­i­pa­tion stakes for this Fen boy. Our whole vil­lage would con­gre­gate on our neigh­bour’s al­lot­ment.

We would have made house-to-house col­lec­tions, ac­quir­ing rub­bish to burn and add to the ever-grow­ing bon­fire. House­holds would con­trib­ute sausage rolls, vats of hot soup and too-hot-to-han­dle jacket po­ta­toes to the evening’s feast. The smell of fire­works and the smoke of the of­ten out-of-con­trol fire would linger for many evenings af­ter. Wan­der­ing the vil­lage in the dark only added to the sense of oc­ca­sion.

My love of fire­works and the rit­u­als as­so­ci­ated with them en­dure to this day, my en­thu­si­asm is only sur­passed by my wife’s, who would hap­pily be out ev­ery night in Novem­ber, star­ing into the sky. She claims, much like how you can judge a per­son by how they treat their waiter, you can tell a per­son’s char­ac­ter if they brand a fire­work dis­play as ‘a waste of money’! This is an ideal recipe for dark win­ter nights, with the sticky dates, juicy ap­ples and soft brown sugar, and deca­dent rich, sweet sauce. This cake will keep for days. In fact it gets bet­ter with time to ma­ture. I’m bet­ting it won’t last for many hours once out of the oven!

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