This comforting pudding is the most popular choice on the Roast pudding menu during the cooler months. It’s rich, but still wonderfully light in texture.
You will also need: a 30 x 20 x 5cm cake tin
You Will Need
Start with the hazelnut praline. Lay the toasted hazelnuts on to a small tray covered with greaseproof paper and place to one side. Place the sugar and water in a small clean saucepan and over a high heat, bring it to the boil. Boil rapidly until the sugar has turned into a dark caramel. Pour the caramel over the hazelnuts and allow to cool at room temperature for 2 hours, until set hard. Break up the praline into pieces and pulse in a food processor into course crumbs. Set aside until ready to serve.
While the praline is cooling, prepare the poached fruits. The quinces take much more cooking than the apples and pears, so it’s a good idea to poach them separately beforehand and just add them to the cooked compote at the end.
To poach the quinces, peel them, leaving them whole, place in a saucepan and cover with the water and sugar. Add the vanilla seeds, cinnamon, and the lemon juice (this prevents the quinces discolouring). Cover the surface of the liquid with a disc of baking parchment and bring the mixture to the boil.
Turn down to a gentle simmer and poach until soft. The poaching time will vary depending on the size and ripeness of the fruit but it may take up to 20 minutes. Once cooked, leave the quinces in the poaching syrup to cool.
Slice each apple and pear quarter into about 3 wedges. Place into a saucepan and add enough of the quince poaching syrup just to cover the apples and pears. Bring to the boil and turn down to a gentle simmer. Poach until the fruit is soft – about 5–7 minutes – then remove from the heat. Remove the quinces from their poaching syrup, cut into wedges and add to the apples and pears. Set aside until ready to serve then gently reheat the fruit in the poaching syrup.
For the pudding, preheat your oven to 160oC/Gas Mark 3. Grease the inside of a the cake tin with butter, then dust with flour. Give the tin a couple of taps over the sink to release any excess flour.
Bring the water to the boil in a saucepan. Add the dates and simmer for a couple of minutes, until they have softened.
Mix in the bicarbonate of soda and allow the dates to stand for about 10 minutes. The bicarbonate of soda will break the dates down further so they are easily distributed through the pudding.
Beat the butter and sugar until light
and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition, before adding the next. Sift the flour and baking powder together then stir them into the egg mixture. Add the date mixture and the vanilla extract and mix well until all the ingredients are well combined.
I remember being worried that the mixture seemed a little wet the first time I made this pudding but rest assured, all was fine when it emerged from the oven.
Pour the mixture into the prepared tin, allowing plenty of room for the pudding to rise. Place the tin on the middle shelf of the oven and bake for 30 minutes.
To test if it’s ready push the blade of a small knife or a skewer into the centre. If it comes out clean, the pudding
Allow to cool in the tin for 30 minutes before turning out carefully on to a wire cooling rack. Once cool, trim the edges from the cake and slice into 12 evenly- sized squares. Wrap each portion in clingfilm and store in the fridge until serving.
When ready to serve, make the toffee sauce. Place the sugar into a heavy- based saucepan and mix in the water so all the sugar is wet. Heat the pan over a medium-high heat to melt the sugar and
bring it to the boil. Have a pastry brush and a glass of water to hand to brush down the sides of the pan should any sugar crystals start to form. Once the sugar has reached a dark caramel, switch off the heat source and gently stir in the cream, followed by the butter. Be very careful as it will boil violently when the cream hits the hot caramel. Keep stirring until you have a smooth sauce, then keep warm over a low heat.
To serve, heat the number of pudding portions you need in the microwave, or if you don’t have a microwave,
cover with foil and reheat in a low oven. Remove the clingfilm carefully and cut a corner out of each steaming hot portion with a round biscuit cutter. Place in serving bowls with the corner slightly separated from the rest of the pudding. Spoon the warm poached fruits down between the two pieces of pudding and pour the toffee sauce liberally over the top. Finish with a generous spoonful of clotted cream and a light sprinkling of hazelnut praline. Any pudding you don’t need with keep for 5 days in a sealed container in the fridge.