2 medium-sized kūmara, peeled
2 tablespoons milk
60g butter, plus extra to grease
125g dates, chopped
½ teaspoon baking soda
¾ cup boiling water
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 apples, peeled, cored and sliced
¼ cup date syrup, plus extra to drizzle
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
150ml cream
ice cream or yoghurt to serve

Not only do I imagine we will be encouraged to eat less sugar in the future, but I am growing less and less fond of overly sweet desserts, preferring something fruit based. Sticky date pudding is one of my favourite desserts but, if you think about it, it is sugar on sugar with more sugar. In this recipe I have used the sweetness of dates, apples and orange kūmara to replace the refined sugar. I can’t live without ice cream to serve, but if you really want to be free of refined sugar, serve with plain yoghurt instead.


1.Heat the oven to 180°C.
2.Grease an 18cm square cake tin or baking dish with butter.
3.Cut the kūmara into even pieces, put in a saucepan with water and bring to the boil.
4.Simmer for about 15-20 minutes until cooked through. Drain and put in a mixing bowl.
5.Put the milk and half the butter in a saucepan and heat until the butter is melted, then add to the kūmara and mash well. Set aside to cool.
6.Put the dates in a bowl with the baking soda, pour over the boiling water then set aside to cool for about 20 minutes.
7.Add the dates with any liquid to the kūmara along with the eggs and mix well.
8.Add the flour and baking powder and fold together.
9.Lay the apples over the bottom of the baking dish and drizzle with a little of the date syrup.
10.Spoon the kūmara mix over the apples and bake for 40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
11.While it bakes, put the remaining date syrup in a pan with the remaining butter, vanilla extract and cream and bring to the boil, stirring, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 2 minutes.
12.Pierce the pudding all over with a skewer.
13.Pour over half the date caramel sauce while hot.
14.Let sit for 10 minutes then cut into 8 pieces.
15.Serve with the remaining sauce and some good-quality ice cream or yoghurt.

Recipes and food styling Fiona Smith / Photography Aaron McLean / Styling Fiona Lascelles

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