Sticky Toffee Pudding – A brown sugar cake made with dates is soaked in a homemade toffee sauce to make this traditional British dessert
As you can imagine, this pandemic had led me to find so many new shows to binge on TV. My latest obsession is the Great British Baking Show. Have you seen it? So many people had told me about it but I’d only just gotten into it. I’m almost happy I waited so long to watch it because now I have so many seasons of the show that I can binge for months!
In this show, they feature contestants making various breads, pastries, and desserts. In one episode, they featured puddings. This episode taught me something that I didn’t know before – in Britain, puddings are a completely different dessert than they are in the US. They can be sweet or savory and can be a variety of textures, not simply a custard, like it is here in the US.
One of the puddings that really grabbed my attention was Sticky Toffee Pudding. I mean, if those three words don’t grab your tastebuds immediately, I don’t know what will. And after seeing the finished dessert, I knew I just had to make it for myself.
After trying the pudding, there’s only one word I can use to describe it – velvet. Each bite is so velvety smooth and luscious. The cake itself is so moist and every bite is loaded with toffee sauce. I am so mad that it took me this long to try this dessert.
Now that I’ve tried this recipe, I must share it with you all so you can also experience the incredible flavors and textures. Here is my version of Sticky Toffee Pudding.
What is sticky toffee pudding?
Sticky toffee pudding is a dessert made by soaking a cake made with dates and brown sugar in a rich, sticky toffee sauce. It’s usually made in individual portions but I’ve also seen it made in a large sheet cake. In the US, I imagine it being very similar to a poke cake when served as a large cake.
How is sticky toffee pudding made?
To make sticky toffee pudding, there are three main steps:
- Make toffee sauce
- Make and bake cakes
- Assemble puddings and bake again
This toffee sauce is incredibly easy to make. No candy thermometers or fancy tools needed! All you do is add cream, sugar, butter, and corn syrup to a sauce pan and cook until the sauce turns golden brown. The key is cooking on a low heat and stirring frequently so it doesn’t burn.
The sweetness in these cakes is driven by brown sugar and minced dates. The dates were a new ingredient for me but I found that they added a great color and texture to the cake and helped tame the sweetness. After all, the cakes will be loaded with toffee sauce so we don’t want the cake to be too sweet.
The dates are first rehydrated by simmering in a small pot with water. The dates absorb the water and plump up. This makes them easier to mince in a food processor. Once they’re minced up, they get added to the cake batter right before adding in the dry ingredients.
Assembling the puddings
Once the cake batter is ready, it’s spooned into small ramekins and baked until completely cooked. Then, they’re removed from the ramekins and sliced in half. Toffee sauce is spooned into each ramekin and the cake halves are added back to the ramekins with layers of toffee sauce between each layer. The cakes are baked again in the oven so that they can absorb all the toffee sauce.
Tips & Tricks
- It’s very important that you keep the toffee sauce cooking at a moderately low heat and stir it frequently. Otherwise, it could burn on the bottom.
- Make sure the dates are minced as fine as possible. This ensures they get evenly distributed in the cake and you don’t get chunks of dates in each bite.
- The cakes MUST be cooked thoroughly or else they will be difficult to remove from the ramekins. Also, make sure to grease the ramekins properly so the cakes will come out easily.
Sticky Toffee Pudding
For the toffee sauce:
- 2½ cups heavy cream
- 1 stick butter unsalted
- ½ cup light corn syrup
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
For the cake:
- 6 ounces pitted dates
- ¾ cup water
- ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 4 tablespoons butter unsalted, softened
- ¾ cup light brown sugar
- 1 large egg
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the toffee sauce:
- Add 1 1/4 cups of heavy cream to a medium sauce pan, along with butter, corn syrup, sugar and salt. Stir mixture and bring to a boil. reduce to a low simmer and cook until mixture turns golden brown, about 30 minutes. Stir frequently so the mixture doesn't burn on the bottom.
- Once mixture is golden brown, whisk in remaining heavy cream and remove from heat. Set aside until the final step.
For the cake:
- Place dates and water in a small sauce pan. Simmer until most of the water is absorbed by the dates, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and place dates and remaining water into a food processor. Pulse until the dates are completely minced. Set aside.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl. Set aside. Add butter and brown sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat on medium until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add egg and vanilla extract and mix until combined. Add in the date puree and mix until combined. Add dry ingredients and mix just until combined.
- Grease 6 small ramekins (about 6-8 ounces) with nonstick spray. Place on a baking sheet. Spoon 1/2 cup of the cake mixture into each of the 6 ramekins and smooth the top so it's in an even layer. Place baking sheet with 6 filled ramekins into preheated oven. Bake until cooked through, about 20 minutes.
- Remove cakes from oven but keep oven on. Let them cool for 5-10 minutes and then remove the cakes from the ramekin. Slice each cake in half. Place 1 tablespoon of toffee sauce into empty ramekin, Add one half of the slice cake. Spoon another tablespoon over the cake half. Top with other half of cake and finish with one more tablespoon of toffee sauce. Repeat with other five cakes.
- Place cakes back into over to bake for 10 more minutes, or until the toffee sauce is bubbling around the sides. Remove from oven and invert onto a plate for serving. Serve with ice cream, whipped cream, or by themselves. Best served warm.