Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/Gas 4 and lightly grease your dish.
Put the chopped dates, boiling water and bicarbonate of soda into a bowl, stir and then leave for 10 minutes.
Cream the butter and black treacle together in a stand mixer until well mixed, then add the sugar and mix again, beating out any lumps. Beat in an egg and keep beating – scraping down as necessary – until completely incorporated, then do the same with the other egg. Beating more gently, add the flour and baking powder until you have a smooth, thick batter.
Using a fork, stir the soaked dates, squishing them a bit, then pour the dates and their liquid into the batter and beat gently to mix in.
Pour and scrape into your prepared dish or cake tin and bake for 30–35 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.
Meanwhile, to make the sauce, melt the butter, muscovado sugar, zest, juice, star anise, cinnamon stick and heat over a very low heat in a heavy-based saucepan.
Once the butter’s melted, stir gently until everything else is melted too. Increase the heat to bubble the sauce until it thickens slightly. Add the Penderyn whisky or brandy and the cream. Turn up the heat and when it’s bubbling and hot, take it off the heat.
As soon as the cake is out of the oven, prick all over the surface with a fork or with a cocktail stick and pour about a quarter of the warm sauce over, easing it to the edges with a spatula so that the sponge is entirely topped with a thick sticky glaze.
Keep the remaining sauce in the pan and keep warm.
Leave the pudding to stand for 20–30 minutes, then serve with the reserved warm sauce and cream
200gsoft dried pitted dates, roughly chopped
200ml water from a freshly boiled kettle
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
75g Castle Dairies Salted Welsh Butter, softened, plus more for greasing
2 tablespoons black treacle
50g dark muscovado sugar
2 large free-range eggs at room temperature
2 teaspoons baking powder
For the sauce
150g Castle Dairies Welsh Salted Butter, softened
300g dark muscovado sugar
1 dessertspoon grated orange zest
100ml orange juice
2 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
7100ml Penderyn Whisky or brandy
200ml/ double cream, plus more to serve