I made this out of sheer curiosity, since it seems so counterintuitive to pour a bunch of boiling water over a mixture before it goes into the oven. It works well, just as promised. I don‛t like dates, so I substituted dried mission figs. It was okay, but the seeds in the figs slightly skew the texture. I‛m thinking apricots next time. Or the quite obvious raisins.
for the cake:
scant 1/3 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons self-rising flour
½ cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons chopped, rolled dates
for the sauce:
¾ cup dark brown sugar packed
approx. 2 tablespoons unsalted butter in little blobs
2 ¼ cups boiling water
Preheat the oven to 375 °F and butter a 1 ½ -quart capacity baking dish.
Combine the sugar with the flour in a large bowl. Pour the milk into a measuring cup, beat in the egg, vanilla and melted butter and then pour this mixture over the sugar and flour, stirring - just with a wooden spoon - to combine. Fold in the dates then scrape into the prepared baking dish. Don‛t worry if it doesn‛t look very full: it will do by the time it cooks.
Sprinkle over the sugar for the sauce and dot with butter. Pour over the boiling water (yes really!) and transfer to the oven. Set the timer for 45 minutes, though you might find the dessert needs 5 or 10 minutes more. The top of the dessert should be springy and spongy when it‛s cooked; underneath, the butter, dark brown sugar and boiling water will have turned into a rich, sticky sauce. Serve with vanilla ice cream, creme fraiche, or heavy or light cream as you wish.
Serves 6 � 8 .
Lawson, Nigella. Nigella Bites. New York: Hyperion, 2002. 216.