for the sponge
- 175g (6oz) stoned dates, chopped
- 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 75g (3oz) unsalted butter
- 175g (6oz) caster sugar
- ½tsp vanilla extract
- 3 large, free-range eggs
- 225g (8oz) self-raising flour, sifted
for the caramel
- 100g (4oz) sugar
- 35g (1¼oz) salted butter
- 50ml (2fl oz) double cream
for the filling
- 150ml (¼pt) double cream
- 3tbsp icing sugar
- Werther's toffees, chopped, to decorate
you will need
- 20cm (8in) springform cake tin, oiled, bottom lined and lightly floured
Heat the oven to 180 C, 160 C fan, 350 F, gas 4. Place the dates in a bowl with the bicarbonate of soda and 300ml (½pt) boiling water. Stir and set aside. Beat the butter and sugar together with an electric whisk until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla extract and eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Don't worry if it curdles, it'll come back together.
Add the flour, beat well, then pour in the dates and all the liquid and mix well. Pour into the tin (it'll be runny). Bake in the middle of the oven for around 55 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.
Meanwhile, make the caramel. Place the sugar in a non-stick, heavy bottomed pan and cook over a gentle heat for 5 to 8 minutes until you have a rich caramel. Remove from the heat and add the butter, stirring constantly. Don't worry if it splits, keep stirring and it should come back together. Add the cream when the butter has melted, then stir until glossy. Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool to a spreadable consistency.
For the filling, whip the cream with the icing sugar until just under firm, then set aside. It will firm up on standing. Remove the cake from the oven and tin, and cool completely. Cut in half and fill the middle with the whipped cream and drizzle the caramel over the top, working towards the edges with a palette knife. If it has firmed up too much, add more warm cream and stir again. Top with the toffees. It will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days or, uniced, the sponge can be frozen for a month.
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