Food, Recipe

Eat This While You Read That: Dave Freer

This is a repost of the First Reader’s favorite thing I made during the year of authors and food I blogged a while back. I miss that, I wish I had the time again… but today, it’s the First Reader’s birthday, so I’m sharing this recipe and plan to make it for him this evening. 

Sticky Date Pudding
Pudding, and sauce.

Hi, this is Cedar, and I’m moving my popular food series, Eat This While you Read That! to the Otherwhere Gazette. This series of posts featuring authors, their books, and a favorite recipe of their choice, was born from my love of cooking, reading, and taking pictures. Here’s how it works: I get in touch with an author, ask for a dish, then I make it, taking pictures as I go, and finally it’s featured along with links to the author’s work. It’s been a lot of fun so far, and if you want to find the beginning of the series you can look here.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been reading at the table since I was big enough to handle a book in one hand and a fork in the other. I’ve been cooking since Mom had to set up a milk crate for me to reach the counter, and I love the art and science of creating food. It’s endlessly variable, usually delicious, and like doing chemistry in the kitchen every single time.

Today we’re going to pick up Dave Freer’s newest, Joy Cometh With the Mourning, and take a trip Down Under with a very tasty dessert that’s perfect for the cool weather we’re having in my hemisphere. If you’d prefer a rollicking space opera, take a look at Stardogs, instead.

Dave sent me a recipe with his usual humorous take on things, so I am reproducing it here with very little comment. It’s not a difficult recipe, and well worth the effort. Keep in mind that an English pudding is an American cake, to begin with.

Sticky Date Pudding

Joy Cometh

Ok, I don’t know how familiar Americans are with this but it’s a common, old-fashioned Australian winter (and any other time you have the excuse) treat.

  • 1 cup dates,
  • 2 teaspoons of bi-carbonate of soda
  • 1 cup of boiling water
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 2 tablespoons of soft Brown Sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ teaspoon of salt.
  • 1 and ½ cups of self-raising flour (I use Spelt flour, and 1/2 tsp baking powder)
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla essence


Chopped Dates
Chopped Dates: I cheated and used the food processor. Putting the baking soda in while I pulsed kept it from getting too sticky.

Rough-chop dates and add with bi-carb to the boiling water. Stand until cool – this means start this a couple of hours before.

Preheat your oven to 180 C. (moderate oven) (For the Americans in our audience, a 350 degF oven will do nicely)

Cream the butter and sugar, add eggs one at a time and beat well as you do so.

Add vanilla, then some flour, then some of date/bicarb/water mixture –repeat and stir it together as you go.

Line a square tin with baking paper (or use one of the new flexible rubber type stuff tins).

Pour your mix in, bake for 30-40 minutes (depends on your oven) – but until a skewer comes out clean.

Serve warm cut in squares, with the important part, the sauce.

Brown Sugar Sauce
Melting the brown sugar into the butter. Don’t let it go too far, or you’ll make candy.
  • 1 cup soft brown sugar  (the thick sticky brown stuff –I hope America has it, is best).
  • ¾ cup of cream (real cream, not some woosy low fat stuff)
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
Brown Sugar Sauce
Stirring the cream in slowly. I wound up switching to a whisk to properly blend it together.

In a saucepan, melt the butter, add the sugar, stir and do your best to dissolve the sugar, add the cream and vanilla, and while stirring occasionally get it to a gentle bubble – take it off, taste it. Sit in the kitchen and lick the spoon. Have a little more.  Try to resist sitting in the kitchen and eating it all, but pour warm and generously over the squares of the cake in individual bowls. It should soak in and leave a puddle in the bowl. Do not leave Sanford to pour his own sauce or you will regret not just eating it all in the kitchen. Serve with thick cream.

sticky date pudding recipe
Pouring caramel sauce over the Sticky Date Pudding
sticky Date pudding
Sticky Date Pudding verdict: Let’s do that AGAIN!

10 thoughts on “Eat This While You Read That: Dave Freer

  1. I’m not fond of dates, after gorging on them as a child. After reading this, it’s likely time for me to overcome that bait-shyness. This MIGHT be something my newest children would enjoy.

  2. I know he wasn’t certain how ‘Joy’ would be received when he wrote it, but it’s such a sweet mystery. I really hope he finds time to write more. Also, if you want more in the same tone, try his book Changeling’s Island. I really love that one.

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