Slow-Cooker Sticky-Toffee Pudding

  • 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.

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