Servings: Makes 8 servings
To make pudding: Preheat oven to 350°. Butter a high-sided 9-inch round baking pan; line bottom with waxed paper. In a medium bowl, pour water over dates; stir in baking soda, and let stand until dates soften, about 5 minutes. In another medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar together until fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until almost smooth. With mixer on low, beat in flour mixture until just combined; add date mixture and vanilla until blended.
Transfer batter to prepared pan. Bake until top feels firm, 30 to 33 minutes.
Meanwhile, to make toffee sauce: In a medium saucepan, bring heavy cream and light brown sugar to a boil, stirring occasionally. Add butter, and boil 3 minutes.
Remove pudding from oven; let stand 5 minutes. Place waxed paper over top of pudding, and unmold by inverting pudding onto a plate; invert again onto a serving plate, top side up. Using a fork, poke holes in surface of pudding so toffee sauce will seep in evenly. Spoon 6 Tablespoons sauce, one at a time, over top. Serve remaining sauce alongside warm pudding, with a bowl of whipped cream, if desired.
From the March 2005 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine
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