Classic British Sticky Toffee Pudding: A Holiday Favorite

The sticky toffee pudding is a classic British dessert that usually sees a re-emergence during the holiday season. And with good reason. The stodgy, moist, and gooey cake is one of the most loved desserts in the country. A dessert which first made its appearance in the 60s, the sticky toffee pudding was pretty quick in establishing itself as one of the most favored desserts in the UK, from tosh establishments to the fairly basic family dinners. It has also migrated successfully to the US where you can even mail-order this dessert.

The word pudding here reflects the British usage where pudding pretty much means any dessert. This is a pudding that ticks all the basics of a classic; butter, vanilla, and caramelly sauce. Essentially, it’s a vanilla cake with a toffee sauce. But this is definitely a recipe where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. This is no bland vanilla cake. Instead, what you have is a rich, buttery and moist cake. There is also a little surprise, dates that are either chopped or added as moist pulp. The dates give the cake its mellow sweetness, smoky and deliciously dense taste.

Poured on top is the luscious toffee sauce. Caramelly and buttery, this is a sauce that is made to be savored slowly. It’s a basic toffee sauce, but in this pudding, we can elevate it to another level by putting it under the grill with the sponge cake and then pouring it on top before serving. The pudding may sound so sweet that you will need to visit your dentist later, but it is surprisingly well-balanced. The caramelly sauce never overpowers the underlying cake and the sponge absorbs it all wonderfully. However, it is a rich cake and one slice is more than enough.

How to Make a Sticky Toffee Pudding?

One of the reasons for the enduring popularity of the sticky toffee pudding is how easy it is to make. All you need is pretty basic baking skills. It’s also a very forgiving recipe where you don’t have to worry about the perfectly raised or domed cake. The toffee sauce itself is very easy. It is just a matter of heating together butter, sugar, and then pouring it on the cream.

Like all much-loved recipes, there are different versions of the sticky toffee pudding. It is a recipe that has been ‘re-invented’ by different chefs, from Jamie Oliver, Nigella Lawson, Gordon Ramsey, to Simon Hopkinson. You will find puddings with sultanas or spiced up for a Christmas version. We have picked the classic by Hopkinson which uses two sauces – a toffee sauce, and a butterscotch sauce. If you don’t want to make two different sauces, just omit the butterscotch sauce and double the amount of toffee sauce. Use half the sauce over the sponge and keep the rest to pour over when serving.

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Sticky Toffee Pudding Recipe

This classic British pudding is very easy to make. You can make extra batches of this delicious toffee sauce and use it for drizzling over your ice-cream or just enjoy it all by itself.

Prep Time20 minsCook Time15 minsBaking Time55 minsTotal Time35 mins

Servings: 6 people
Author: Paromita Datta

For the sponge

  • 6 oz dates chopped
  • 1 1/4 cup water hot
  • 2 oz salted butter plus extra greasing
  • 1 1/4 cup self-raising flour
  • 2/3 oz molasses sugar
  • 2/3 oz demerara sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

For the toffee sauce

  • 1 cup double cream
  • 3 oz butter
  • 3 oz molasses sugar

For the butterscotch sauce

  • 1 1/4 cup whipping cream
  • 2 oz molasses sugar
  • 2 oz salted butter

To make the Sponge

  • Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Generously grease a baking dish with butter.
  • Place the dates in a bowl and pour over the hot water. Let the dates soak for at least 15 mins.
  • Once the dates are softened, drain out the liquid and keep aside. Whizz the softened dates in a food processor. You need them to break down but still retain some pulp. You don't want to process them into a paste.
  • Add all the other ingredients for the sponge, including the drained water to the date pulp. Blend all these together till combined. You should be able to see the specks of the dates.
  • Pour this batter into the baking dish and bake for 40 minutes or till a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

To make the Sauce

  • While the cake is baking, make both the sauces. All you have to do is heat all the ingredients on a gentle heat till everything is homogenously mixed and what you have are two luscious-looking glossy sauces

To make the Sticky Toffee Pudding

  • Now bring it all together. Once the cake is done, pour over the toffee sauce. You can remove a thin layer of the crust from the top if you want. This helps the sauce to penetrate the sponge and soak into it.
  • Put the baking pan under a moderate grill till the toffee sauce on top is bubbling.
  • Serve this pudding hot. Pour over the butterscotch sauce over the pudding when serving.
  • This recipe is super rich with its two caramelly sauces. For added oomph, you can serve it with an extra serving of double cream or a scoop of vanilla ice-cream.
  • Make ahead: It is important to serve this pudding hot, but that does not mean you have to start the process just before serving. You can make it ahead. Bake the sponge cake and keep the sauces ready. Just pop the pudding under the grill and serve it hot.

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