The ultimate British indullgence.
Small amount of vegetable shortening for preparing pan
1 cup pitted and chopped dates
1 teaspoon baking soda
1¼ cups boiling water
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ cup unsalted butter
1¼ cups firmly packed light brown sugar
1 cup whipping (heavy) cream
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare one 9x9x2 inch square pan; lightly grease the bottom only.
In a medium mixing bowl, combine dates, baking soda, and boiling water. Let sit about 30 minutes or until the dates have softened and absorbed the water, and the water has cooled to lukewarm.
In a small mixing bowl, add flour and baking powder; sift or whisk together to mix. Set aside.
In a large bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
With the mixer still on medium speed, slowly add the sugar to the butter, either one tablespoon at a time, or in a very slow steady stream, taking from 4 to 6 minutes to add all of the sugar, and beating until the butter and sugar are fully incorporated and the mixture is a light, or pale yellow color, with a fluffy texture. While adding the sugar, stop the mixer occasionally to scrape the mixture off the paddle and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula so the mixture blends evenly.
Add egg and vanilla, beating until thoroughly mixed.
Add the flour mixture; stir until mixed. Add date mixture; stir until mixed.
Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface with the back of a large spoon. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until a long toothpick, wooden skewer, or cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven.
Prepare toffee sauce while cake is baking. In a medium heavy saucepan over low heat, combine butter, brown sugar, and whipping cream. Heat to boiling and boil gently for 3 minutes, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula so mixture does not burn. Remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly until cake is finished baking.
Pre-heat oven broiler.
While cake is still hot, use the handle of a wooden spoon to poke several holes in the top of the cake. Spoon about 1/3 of the toffee sauce over the top, allowing the sauce to soak into the cake. Place cake under the oven broiler until the surface begins to bubble, about 30 seconds. Immediately remove the pan from the oven. Let the cake cool a bit, and then cut into 3 inch squares.
Serve warm or at room temperature in dessert bowls. Spoon remaining warm toffee sauce over cake pieces. Spoon a dollop of whipped cream on top if desired.
From the kitchen of Sonja Runck