Sticky Toffee Pudding
from the Home Farm Store, Middleburg, Va and Hunter's Head Tavern, Upperville, Va
¼ cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
1 ½ cups sifted all-purpose flour plus more for pan
1 ½ cups chopped pitted dates (about 6 ounces)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon Sea salt
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 ¼ cups (packed) light brown sugar
½ cup heavy cream
¼ cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 teaspoon brandy (optional)
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream
A 6-cup Bundt pan or 6 one-cup Bundt pan molds
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour Bundt pan. Bring dates and 1 ¼ cups water to a boil in a medium heavy saucepan with tall sides. Remove from heat; stir in baking soda (mixture will become foamy). Set aside; let cool.
Whisk 1 ½ cups flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat ¼ cup butter, sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl to blend (mixture will be grainy). Add 1 egg; beat to blend. Add half of the flour mixture and half of the date mixture; beat to blend. Repeat with remaining 1 egg, flour mixture, and date mixture. Pour batter into mold.
Bake until a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, 40-45 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Invert pudding onto rack. Do ahead: can be made one day ahead. Cover and let stand at room temperature.
Bring sugar, cream and butter to a boil in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly. Continue to boil, stirring constantly, for three minutes. Remove from heat; stir in brandy (if using), and vanilla. Do ahead: can be made four hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature. Re-warm gently before using.
Cut cake into wedges. Serve with sauce and whipped cream or ice cream.