- For the pudding
- 1 1/2 cups pitted dates, chopped small (about 8 ounces)
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- 1 1/4 cups plain flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon mixed spice
- 1 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
- 2 large eggs
- Zest from 1 orange (about 1 1/2 teaspoons)
- Cooking spray
- For the sauce
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 1 cup double cream
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- Vanilla ice cream or whipped cream, for serving
For the pudding: Bring the dates and milk to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat, and simmer until the dates begin to soften, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the heat, and stir in the baking soda (it will foam a bit); set aside to cool slightly.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and pumpkin pie spice in a medium bowl until combined; set aside.
Whisk together the sugar, butter, eggs and zest in a large bowl until smooth. Whisk in the date mixture until just combined. Stir in the flour mixture until just combined.
Line the insert of a 6-quart slow cooker with a double layer of aluminum foil, pressing it smoothly into the corners, and spray well with cooking spray. Pour the batter into the foil, and turn the cooker on low for 4 hours. Fold a double layer of paper towels, and place just under the lid across the pot to absorb the excess moisture and form a tight seal. Cover tightly with the lid. Cook until the middle of the cake has set and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool slightly, 15 to 20 minutes.
For the sauce: While the pudding cools, bring the sugar, cream and butter to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat; cook, stirring often, until smooth, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, and add the nutmeg.
To assemble: Poke holes in the cake with a skewer, and pour half the toffee sauce over it. Let the cake cool, 10 to 15 minutes. Serve with ice cream or whipped cream.