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- Pit the dates and chop them up roughly. Put into a saucepan and add water. Bring to a boil then remove saucepan from the heat and add in bicarbonate of soda. Stir well to mix and leave aside to cool.
- Cream butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl until light and creamy. Add in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the essence and continue to beat until well combined.
- Sift in flour and fold in gently with a metal spoon. Stir in the date mixture and stir well until the ingredients are just combined (take care not to over-beat).
- Line the base of an 18cm round cake tin with greased baking paper. Lightly grease the sides of the tin as well.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake in a preheated oven at 180°C for 4550 minutes or until cooked through when tested with a skewer. Leave the pudding in the tin for 1015 minutes before turning out. Cut into 810 slices.
- To make the sauce: Put cream, sugar and butter into a small saucepan. Stir with a metal spoon until the butter melts and the sugar dissolves, then bring to a gentle boil for 12 minutes. Add the brandy; mix. Pour the sauce over individual pudding slices and serve.