For the toffee sauce


  • STEP 1

    Put the dates, raisins, rum and 100ml water in a small saucepan and set over a low heat until steaming, about 5 mins (or do this in the microwave). Leave to cool.

  • STEP 2

    Meanwhile, make the toffee sauce. Put all the ingredients except the cream in a small pan and bring to a simmer. Cook until the sugar has dissolved and the sauce is glossy, about 5 mins. Pour in the cream and cook for 2 mins more, stirring continuously, then remove from the heat and set aside. The sauce will continue to thicken as it cools.

  • STEP 3

    Generously butter a 1.5-litre pudding basin. Beat the butter and sugar until well combined in a large bowl using an electric whisk, or in a stand mixer. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition. Fold in the flour, spices and the soaked fruit until evenly incorporated, then stir in the milk.

  • STEP 4

    Pour a quarter of the toffee sauce into the base of the prepared basin, then spoon in the sponge batter. Place a sheet of baking parchment over a sheet of foil, then make a pleat in the centre. Use this to cover the pudding, parchment-side down, and tie securely under the lip of the basin using kitchen string.

  • STEP 5

    Transfer the basin to a steamer. Alternatively, put an upturned plate in the base of a large pan, sit the basin on top, and half-fill the pan with water from the kettle so it goes halfway up the side of the basin. Cover and cook over a low heat for 2 hrs 35 mins, checking the water level every so often and topping up when needed.

  • STEP 6

    Check the sponge is ready by inserting a skewer into the middle. If it comes out clean, the sponge is cooked. If any uncooked batter clings to the skewer, continue steaming, then check again after about 20 mins.

  • STEP 7

    To serve, warm the remaining toffee sauce over a low heat, invert the sponge onto a serving plate, and pour over the warmed sauce. Serve with custard or ice cream.

Recipe tip

You can make the pudding up to a week in advance. After it’s steamed, remove the foil and baking parchment and leave to cool completely. Stack a fresh sheet of baking parchment over a fresh sheet of foil, pleat, and use to cover the pudding as before. Keep the pudding in the fridge or a cool, dry place for up to one week. To serve, steam for 1 hr until fully reheated. Cover the reserved sauce and keep in the fridge, then reheat fully over a low heat for about 5 mins before serving.

Learn how to steam a pudding in our handy guide.

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