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Brandy has a long history in South Africa, from the earliest distillation of cape grapes – believed to he in 1672 and rightfully termed fire water – to the refined product available today.
250 ml finely chopped walnuts or pecan nuts
Mix half of the dates with the bicarbonate of soda and pour the boiling water over the dates. Mix weIl and leave to cool. Cream the butter or margarine and sugar together until light, then beat in the eggs to make a smooth mixture. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt over the creamed mixture and fold it in. Mix in the remaining dates and the nuts. stir in the bicarbonate of soda and date mixture, mix well and turn the batter into a large baking dish. Bake at 180 C for approximately 40 minutes, or until the pudding springs back when pressed at the centre. Make the syrup just before the pudding is cooked. Heat the butter or margarine, sugar and water for approximately 5 minutes, remove the mixture from the stove and stir in the brandy, vanilla essence and salt. Pour the warm syrup over the pudding as soon as it comes from the oven. Serve the pudding either hot or cold, with whipped cream.
MICROWAVE OVEN: Microwave the pudding on 70 per cent power for 13-15 minutes. Leave to stand for 10 minutes. Microwave the syrup on 70 per cent power tor 2 – 3 minutes, stirring once. Pour the syrup over the pudding and serve.