sticky toffee pudding - serves 6

For the pudding
225g whole Medjool dates
175g boiling water
1 tsp vanilla extract
175g self-raising flour, plus extra for greasing
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 large eggs
85g butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
140g demerara sugar
2 tbsp black treacle
100ml whole milk
cream or custard to serve (optional)

For the toffee sauce
175g light muscovado sugar
50g butter, cut into pieces
225ml double cream
1 tbsp black treacle

Heat oven to 180C

Stone and chop the dates quite small, put them in a bowl, then pour the boiling water over. Leave for about 30 mins until cool and well-soaked, then mash with a fork.

Stir in the vanilla extract.

Butter and flour six dariole moulds (each about 200ml) and sit them on a baking sheet.

While the dates are soaking, make the puddings.

Mix the flour and bicarbonate of soda together.

Beat the eggs in a separate bowl.

Beat the butter and sugar together in a large bowl for a few mins until slightly creamy (the mixture will be grainy from the sugar). Add the eggs a little at a time, beating well between additions. Beat in the black treacle, then using a large metal spoon, gently foldin one-third of the flour, then half the milk, being careful not to overbeat. Repeat until all the flour and milk is used.

Stir the soaked dates into the pudding batter. Don't worry if the mix looks a little curdled at this point and will be like a soft, thick batter. Spoon it evenly between the tins and bake for 20-25 mins, until risen and firm.

Meanwhile, put the sugar and butter for the sauce in a medium saucepan with half the cream. Bring to the boil over a medium heat, stirring all the time, until the sugar has completely dissolved.

Stir in the black treacle, turn up the heat slightly and let the mixture bubble away for 2-3 mins until it is a rich toffee colour, stirring occasionally to make sure it doesn’t burn. Take the pan off the heat and beat in the rest of the cream.

Remove the puddings from the oven. Leave in the tins for a few mins, then loosen them well from the sides of the tins with a small palette knife before turning them out.

Serve with the sauce drizzled over on their own, or with cream or custard.

the country's favourite dessert?