About this recipe: On a chilly winter day, nothing could be more welcoming than a sponge pudding packed with dates and toasted walnuts. This is very easy to make and it has a lovely moist texture achieved by ‘steaming’ the pudding in a bain-marie in the oven. A tangy pineapple and marmalade sauce makes a perfect accompaniment.
A, B12, calcium, copper, iron
Use self-raising wholemeal flour rather than white flour. The mixture will need an extra 2 tablespoon semi-skimmed milk. * Instead of a pineapple and marmalade sauce, serve the pudding with a pineapple and orange compote. Just mix the pineapple pieces and their juice with 2 to 3 sliced or segmented oranges. * To make mini lemon and sultana puddings, soak 85g (3 oz) sultanas in 1 tablespoon lemon juice and 1 tablespoon brandy for 1 hour. Lightly grease eight 100 ml (3 1/2 fl oz) deep muffin tins and line the bottoms with greaseproof paper. Make the sponge mixture as in the main recipe, but leave out the dates and walnuts, and instead fold in the soaked sultanas and the finely grated zest of 1 small lemon. Divide the mixture among the tins and bake for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, make a maple, pecan and citrus sauce. Put 120ml (4 fl oz) maple syrup in a saucepan with 4 tablespoon orange juice, 85 g (3 oz) roughly chopped toasted pecan nuts, the segments from 2 oranges and 1 pink grapefruit, and 1 tablespoon orange liqueur, if liked. Gently heat until the sauce is just beginning to bubble. Turn out the puddings onto 8 serving plates. Arrange a few extra orange and grapefruit segments around each pudding, then spoon the hot sauce over the tops. Serve straight away.
Up to 95% of the energy content of dates comes from natural sugars. The fibre content of dates ensures that the glucose obtained from the sugars is released slowly into the blood stream. * Walnuts have a high unsaturated fat content, particularly as linoleic acid. Some studies have suggested that including a regular, small quantity of walnuts in the diet can help to reduce high blood cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart attacks. * Pineapple canned in natural juice has a total sugar content of 8.5 g per 100 g (3½ oz) compared to 13.2 g for the same weight of pineapple canned in syrup.