Butter for greasing pan
2 ½ cups water
2 cups pitted dates, chopped very fine. (I use about 30 largish dates.)
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons non-aluminum baking powder
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 ½ cups dark brown sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups (1-pound package) unsalted butter
1 pint heavy cream
4 cups packed dark brown sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a large baking dish- mine is 9 x 13 inches. Bring the water to a boil in a small saucepan and then add the dates and baking soda; set aside. Whisk flour together with baking powder and set that aside as well. With an electric mixer, beat ½ cup butter with sugar until fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla extract, and beat until blended. Gradually add flour mixture. Fold in soaked dates (with liquid). Stir until blended. Pour batter into prepared baking dish. Bake until set and firm on top, approximately 40 minutes.
For the sauce, combine 2 cups butter with cream and dark brown sugar in a medium-heavy saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil gently over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is thickened, about 10 minutes.
Preheat boiler. Poke holes into the cake. (I poke a lot of holes. We want that sauce to get way in there!) Pour about 1 ½ cups or so of sauce over the cake, spreading evenly. Place under broiler until top is bubbly, 1-3 minutes.
Serve dessert warm with extra sauce drizzled over, with ice cream, or in a bath of heavy cream.
Makes at least 16 servings, depending on how you cut this very rich cake.