Tom Fundaro asked his pastry chef Susan Masch for a pumpkin dessert that "wasn't the ubiquitous créme brûlée." Masch came up with this riff on a traditional English steamed pudding. Warm, soft, spicy and simple, it may be one of the best pumpkin desserts you'll ever eat.
Butter a 2-quart soufflé mold. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and salt. In a large bowl, using a handheld mixer, beat the butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time. In a small bowl, mix the pumpkin puree with the lemon juice, then beat into the egg mixture. Add the dry ingredients and dates and beat slowly until blended. Scrape the batter into the prepared mold and smooth the top.
Cover the soufflé dish with a sheet of buttered foil, seal and transfer to a large, enameled cast-iron casserole. Pour enough hot water into the casserole to reach halfway up the side of the mold and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over moderately low heat until the cake is set, about 1 hour and 10 minutes. Remove the dish from the casserole and let cool for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and spoon the cake onto plates. Serve with vanilla ice cream.