Cape Brandy Pudding or Tipsy Tart, either way you know exactly what you’re in for… a sticky, brandy soaked, winter comfort pud! And if, understandably, you overindulge, tipsy would probably be more apt! An authentically South African baked pudding with Medjool dates and pecan nuts, lavishly doused with a cinnamon and vanilla bean brandy syrup. This timeless classic remains one of my favourite winter desserts.
I don’t know if it’s just me, but the bombardment of images on social media networks, while stimulating and exciting, can also be quite exhausting. Globally, food is currently one of the most snapped images. Taking and sharing insta images of your smoothie or coffee is almost obligatory, especially if your cappuccino or latte has expertly laced, foamy swirls. Along with this visual feast comes the eagerness of baking or making it all, while perhaps at the same time diminishing our inclination to revisit childhood favourites. However, when I do take a moment to flip through my well worn and batter-splattered recipe books, the are a few classics that take me back to memorable Sunday lunches, when a baked pudding with custard was the most pleasurable way to end the meal. On cold winter days this desserts was and still is, exceptional.
Cape Brandy Pudding or Tipsy Tart, as it’s also fondly known, is all about the
brandy dates and nuts. Actually, I think it has everything to do with the brandy. Without the brandy syrup, it could pass for a rather plain date cake. Nothing too exciting there. However, once you’ve drenched the tart, it’s something quite special. The cake needs a thorough soaking to give it that characteristic pudding texture. A heavy hand in this instance can only be advantageous. If you’re going to be stingy, perhaps delegate the job to someone who knows how to be generous.
I haven’t made this Tipsy tart for years, but vaguely recall it serving about 10 maybe 12 at best. In fact, after making it again, I’s say it’s suited for a small village feast. It’s quite enormous, really, but is the easiest way to feed a crowd. It’s also freezer-friendly which means you can have Cape Brandy pudding for days. Alternatively, halve the quantity or if you’re savvy, make the whole recipe, divide between two ovenproof dishes and freeze one for later.
My deviation from the original Cape Brandy pudding is a matter of personal preference and the results are delicious. I’ve used treacle syrup and demerara sugar in the batter which adds a sticky toffee-ness. For a warm spicy note, I add a generous amount cinnamon and mixed spiced. Now for the soaking syrup. Adding whole cinnamon and vanilla pods to the syrup delivers an aromatically boisterous flavour that elevates this classic South African pudding to new level.
So there you have it. My Spiced Cape Brandy Pudding, a true stalwart that hopefully will become a regular at your Sunday lunch table.
Spiced Cape Brandy Pudding aka Tipsy Tart
- 150g solid packed dates, chopped
- 150g Medjool dates, pitted and roughly chopped
- 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- 250ml boiling water
- 130g butter, at room temperature
- 3/4 cup demerara sugar
- 1/4 cup treacle syrup
- 2 eggs
- 2 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon mixed spice
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (100g) chopped pecan nuts
Brandy soaking sauce
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
- 320ml water
- 2 cinnamon sticks, roughly broken
- 1 vanilla pod, split and seeds removed
- pinch salt
- 160ml brandy
- Preheat the oven to 180º C. Grease a large (22cm x 35cm) oven-proof baking dish. Place the dates and bicarbonate of soda in a heatproof bowl. Pour the boiling water over the dates and stir through. Set aside for at least 10 minutes for the dates to soften and cool. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter, demerara sugar and treacle syrup. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition. Sift in the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, mixed spice and salt. Beat on a low speed to combine. Fold through the soaked dates and pecan nuts. Spoon into the prepared dish and bake for about 50-55 minutes. Before removing from the oven, always check with a skewer for doneness.
- In the meanwhile, make the syrup. Place the butter, granulated sugar, water, cinnamon sticks and vanilla seeds and pod in a small saucepan. Bring up to the boil and simmer for about 5 minutes to reduce slightly. Remove from the heat and add a pinch of salt and the brandy.
- Pour the hot syrup over the tart as soon as it comes out of the oven. Serve the brandy pudding warm with softly whipped cream, custard or vanilla bean ice cream.