Preheat your oven to 180C/160C Fan/Gas 4 and lightly butter a 8″ baking tin or dish.
Put the chopped dates, boiling water and bicarbonate of soda into a bowl, stir and then leave for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, cream the butter and black treacle together in a stand or hand held mixer until combined, add the sugar and mix again, beating out any lumps. Add in the eggs one at a time, whisking in between additions until completely incorporated. Sift in the flour and baking powder and mix to a smooth, thick batter. Stir in the soaked dates with a spatula, squishing them a bit so they break down, mix through to incorporate. Pour and scrape the batter into your prepared tin or dish and bake for 30–35 minutes. The cake should be risen and firm to the touch at the centre. You can test the centre by inserting the tip of a sharp knife half way in, it should come out clean when cooked.
Meanwhile make the sauce; gently melt the butter in a pan over a low heat, then add the muscovado sugar, zest, juice, star anise, cinnamon stick, Stir until the sugar has dissolved, increase the heat until the sauce starts to bubble, cook for 3 minutes, the sauce will have thickened slightly by this time. Remove from the heat and add the Penderyn whisky/brandy and cream, place back on the heat and bring back to the boil, remove from the heat and set aside.
As soon as the cake is out of the oven, prick all over the surface with a fork or 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 10 minutes, then serve with the reserved warm sauce and cream.
200g soft 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
100ml Penderyn Whisky or brandy
200ml/ double cream, plus more to serve