Sticky Toffee Pudding

When we travel, B and I love trying the local foods. While in Scotland, we had our first sticky toffee pudding, and I knew we had to recreate it (and I’m not normally a bread pudding person).

It’s a British dessert made of a very moist sponge cake covered in toffee sauce. The cake is made using chopped dates, which I had no idea until reading the recipes. Sticky toffee pudding is classically served with vanilla custard or ice cream.

The original Sticky Toffee Pudding recipe was created by Francis Coulson at Sharrow Bay in the 1970s (they claim the featherlight sweet figgy sponge drenched in toffee sauce is ‘still the finest you will find anywhere in the world‘)

The Sharrow Bay staff signed a secrecy agreement to not disclose the secret recipe (held in the hotel’s vaults), and they must never use the recipe at any other business. (source)

In 2007, an anonymous bidder paid £32,000 to the charity in order to stay at Sharrow Bay and be allowed to make the pudding alongside the pastry chef (source). 

B says if he knew the recipe, he would make it at home for family and friends (this is why he’s not entrusted with any secret recipes haha).

The cake itself isn’t so bad to make, but the toffee was challenging. We made fresh caramel in a cooking class in our Paris honeymoon years ago, and it was much easier with a professional chef there than me in my kitchen at midnight wondering how my toffee separated. But with some quick googling, I saved it by adding some very hot water.

Challenge has a great list of tips for candymaking (which I think is much more finicky than baking).

Adapted from Food Network and Smitten Kitchen

Sticky Toffee Pudding

1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1 cup dates, pitted
1 cup water
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
pinch salt
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 large egg
1/4 teaspoon orange zest

1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1/2 heavy whipping cream
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a small saucepan, simmer the dates in the water over low heat until the dates are soft, about 15 minutes. Transfer the dates and liquid to a food processor and puree.

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a small bowl and set aside. With an electric mixer, cream the brown sugar and butter in a medium bowl. Add the vanilla, egg, zest and date puree. Stir in the dry ingredients. Pour into your baking pan and bake about 20 minutes. Cool slightly and remove the cake.

Make the sauce: Combine butter, cream, sugar and vanilla in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Whisk for about 10 minutes, until the mixture thickens slightly. If your toffee separates (as mine did), add a spoonful or two of very hot water to the toffee and stir to help it come together. Let cool.

Cut the cake into squares. Drizzle each slice with toffee sauce and top with vanilla ice cream. Sprinkle with culinary lavender. Enjoy!

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