Sticky toffee pudding recipes

Nigella’s sticky toffee pudding

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/Gas 4 and lightly grease your dish.

  2. Put the chopped dates, boiling water and bicarbonate of soda into a bowl, stir and then leave for 10 minutes.

  3. Cream the butter and black treacle together in a stand mixer until well mixed, then add the sugar and mix again, beating out any lumps. Beat in an egg and keep beating – scraping down as necessary – until completely incorporated, then do the same with the other egg. Beating more gently, add the flour and baking powder until you have a smooth, thick batter.

  4. Using a fork, stir the soaked dates, squishing them a bit, then pour the dates and their liquid into the batter and beat gently to mix in.

  5. Pour and scrape into your prepared dish or cake tin and bake for 30–35 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.

  6. Meanwhile, to make the sauce, melt the butter, muscovado sugar and treacle over a very low heat in a heavy-based saucepan. Once the butter’s melted, stir gently until everything else is melted too. Now stir in the cream, then turn up the heat and when it’s bubbling and hot, take it off the heat.

  7. As soon as it’s out of the oven, prick the cooked sponge pudding all over with a 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. Put a lid on the remaining sauce in the pan to keep it warm.

  8. Leave the pudding to stand for 20–30 minutes, then take to the table, with the rest of the sauce in a jug, and cream to serve.

STP, as it’s known to aficionados (ie me) sounds like the ultimate school dinner staple; stodgy, gooey and unapologetically sweet, it’s just the thing to set you up for a game of lacrosse, a page of trig, and a whole trunk full of itching powder, apple pie beds and other such jolly wheezes. But you won’t find Enid Blyton’s schoolgirls tucking into sticky toffee pud after lights out, or Billy Bunter scoffing the stuff from his tuck box, because, as every food nerd will tell you, it was invented in the 1970s by Francis Coulson of the Lake District’s Sharrow Bay Hotel.

Mr Coulson may well have been even better at publicity than he was at puddings, however, because according to Simon Hopkinson, the late and “legendary” chef once admitted to him that he’d adapted the idea from one Mrs Martin of Lancashire. Some years later, this good lady’s son contacted Hopkinson to tell him she’d been given the recipe by a Canadian friend, which makes sticky toffee pudding about as British as flipper pie – a fact to bear in mind next time it comes up at a pub quiz (as long as you don’t mind being the kind of contestant who quibbles with the official answers). No matter, wherever it comes from, I’m glad it made the trip.

Although it’s often lumped in with similarly lumpen dishes involving syrup and treacle, STP is actually much more like a giant muffin than a sponge pudding, made with a distinctly liquid batter, rather than a creamed mix of butter, sugar, eggs and flour. The genius of the dish is, I think, the dates, which add a rich, sticky sweetness without making it any heavier than such puddings should be.

The “original”

Sharrow Bay sticky toffee pudding. Photograph: Felicity Cloake for the Guardian

Coulson’s recipe, as recorded by Gary Rhodes (who, in an audacious attempt at thickening the plot, bills it as “a good old English pudding which is made all over the country”), uses chopped dates, softened in boiling water, and folded into creamed butter and sugar, along with eggs, self-raising flour, and vanilla essence. It has a fluffy but moist texture, and I like the large pieces of date. I find the accompanying sauce, made from a mixture of double cream, treacle and demerara sugar far too rich for the pudding – it’s blandly creamy, rather than stickily toffeeish.

The updated original

Simon Hopkinson sticky toffee pudding. Photograph: Felicity Cloake for the Guardian

Stolen or not, I prefer Coulson’s to Hopkinson’s updated version of Mrs Martin’s original recipes, which blends the dates to a purée, and mixes everything together in one go instead of carefully folding the dates into the other ingredients. He’s presumably right about the fact that any benefit this gives is destroyed by the addition of hot water, but it can’t be denied that Coulson’s recipe rises higher than his, and the squidgy chopped dates give it a more interesting texture.

The maverick

Jamie Oliver sticky toffee pudding. Photograph: Felicity Cloake for the Guardian

Ever-modish, young Jamie Oliver makes his STP with yoghurt, which keeps it moist, but weighs the batter down – and his cornucopia of sweet spices give the whole thing a gingerbread flavour. He also, for reasons unexplained, adds 2 tbsp of Ovaltine to the batter, which gives the cake a rich, dark colour, but makes it taste like bedtime.

I do like his sauce though: rather than just cream, he’s made a proper toffee sauce by melting butter and light muscovado sugar together, and then stirred in a mere 140ml double cream. It’s more assertively flavoured, and light enough to allow the addition of further dairy products on the plate – after all, what’s a slab of hot STP without a scoop of ice cream?

The bizarre

Tamasin Day-Lewis sticky toffee pudding. Photograph: Felicity Cloake for the Guardian

If the yoghurt and malted chocolate drink was weird, Tamasin Day-Lewis’ version, in her compendium All You Can Eat, is downright wrongheaded – although, to be fair, she credits it to Joyce Molyneaux of the Carved Angel.

On the basis that the original, with “its cascade of toffee sauce … and the sweetest fruit of all, dates” is “tooth-achingly sweet”, Molyneaux has used dried apricots instead: “their acidic sharpness more than stands up to and contrasts with the velvety thick toffee sauce”. I find the contrast jarring – the fruit seems almost sharp, and, although I can’t deny that steaming it, rather than baking it, makes it very moist, I’m not convinced that losing the crisp top and fluffy middle makes this worthwhile.

Variations

Delia not only grills her puddings briefly after baking, which gives them a deliciously crunchy top, but adds pecans: I like the texture of the nuts, but I can’t really taste them, so I substitute walnuts instead – this is one dish sweet enough to stand up to their bitterness.

I prefer Jamie’s toffee sauce to any of the butterscotchy varieties which appear to have been inspired by Francis Coulson’s “original” version, but it strikes me that I’m missing a trick by simply pouring it over the pudding – it would be nice to have that sweet stickiness throughout. After doing a little research online, I borrow an idea from Mani Niall’s book, Sweet, and put half the sauce into the bottom of the dish before adding the batter. His tip about briefly freezing the sauce to firm it up while you make the rest of the pudding is inspired. Spice-wise, I’ve restricted myself to a sober pinch of cloves, to complement the dates without overpowering them.

Perfect sticky toffee pudding

Felicity’s perfect sticky toffee pudding. Photograph: Felicity Cloake for the Guardian

A good sticky toffee pudding should be more than simple sugar hit – add nuts, for texture, and cloves, for a hint of spice, and this is one transatlantic migrant which will have no problem getting its visa renewed.

Serves 6

175g medjool dates, stoned and roughly chopped
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
300ml boiling water
50g unsalted butter, softened
80g golden caster sugar
80g dark muscovado sugar
2 eggs, beaten
175g flour
1 tsp baking powder
Pinch of ground cloves
75g walnuts

For the sauce:
115g unsalted butter
75g golden caster sugar
40g dark muscovado sugar
140ml double cream

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C. Butter a baking dish approximately 24cm x 24cm.

2. Make the sauce by putting all the ingredients into a pan with a pinch of salt and heating slowly until the butter has melted, then turn up the heat and bring to the boil. Boil for about 4 minutes, until the sauce has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon. Pour half the sauce into the base of the dish and then put it in the freezer while you make the rest of the pudding.

3. Put the dates and bicarbonate of soda in a heatproof dish and cover with the boiling water. Leave to soften while you prepare the rest of the pudding.

4. Beat together the butter and sugar until fluffy, and then beat in the eggs, a little at a time. Stir in the flour, baking powder, cloves and a pinch of salt until well combined, and then add the dates and their soaking water, and the walnuts, and mix well.

5. Take the dish out of the freezer and pour the batter on top of the toffee sauce. Put into the oven for 30 minutes, until firm to the touch, and then take out of the oven.

6. Heat the grill to medium, and poke a few small holes evenly over the surface with a skewer or fork, and then pour over the rest of the sauce. Put briefly under the grill, keeping an eye on it as it can easily burn. Serve with vanilla ice cream.

Is sticky toffee pudding the perfect marriage of stodge and sweetness, or does the name promise more than the dish delivers? What do you like to add to yours – and do you like it with custard, ice cream, or (shock horror), a dollop of yoghurt?

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Sticky Toffee Pudding

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C Fan and lightly grease your dish. Put the chopped dates, boiling water and bicarb into a bowl, give a stir and then leave for 10 minutes.

2. Cream the butter and black treacle until well mixed, then add the sugar and mix again, beating out any lumps. Beat in an egg and keep beating – scraping down as necessary – until completely incorporated, then do likewise with the other egg. Beating more gently, add the flour and baking powder until you have a smooth, thick batter.

3. Using a fork, stir the soaked dates, squishing them a bit, then pour the dates and their liquid into the batter and beat gently to mix in.

4. Pour and scrape into your prepared dish or cake tin and bake in the oven for 30–35 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.

5. While the pudding’s in the oven, you can make the sauce. Melt the butter, muscovado sugar and treacle over a very low heat in a heavy-based saucepan. Once the butter’s melted, stir gently until everything else is melted too. Now stir in the cream, then turn up the heat and when it’s bubbling and hot, take it off the heat.

6. As soon as it’s out of the oven, prick the cooked sponge pudding all over with a 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. Put a lid on the remaining sauce in the pan to keep it warm.

7. Leave for 20–30 mintues, or up to an hour is fine, then take to the table, with the rest of the sauce in the jug, and cream to serve.

Easy sticky toffee pudding with toffee sauce

  1. Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5.

  2. Butter eight small pudding basins (dariole moulds) and sprinkle demerara sugar inside, coating evenly. Shake any excess sugar out of the moulds, and place them on a baking tray.

  3. Place the dates with 250ml/9fl oz water into a saucepan and bring up to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat.

  4. Stir the vanilla extract into the date mixture.

  5. Blend with a stick blender until the date mixture is thick and soupy.

  6. In a large bowl, beat the butter and muscovado sugar together until smooth.

  7. Stir in the syrup and treacle, then the flour, mixing well.

  8. Break the eggs one at a time into the bowl, stirring well after each one.

  9. Add the bicarbonate of soda to the date mixture, then pour into the flour mixture and beat well to blend.

  10. Pour the mixture into the prepared pudding basins, filling them two-thirds full.

  11. Put the puddings into the oven immediately, and bake for 20 minutes until well-risen and springy to the touch.

  12. For the sauce, gently heat the cream in a saucepan. Add the sugar and butter and whisk until melted. Whisk in the syrup and treacle.

  13. To serve, turn the pudding out onto a plate, spoon the sauce over the top and around, then finish with a dollop of ice cream.

Ingredients

For pudding:

110g butter, plus extra for greasing
300g dark brown Muscovado sugar
4 eggs
400g pitted dried dates
600ml water
2 tbsp bicarbonate of soda
350g self raising flour, plus extra for dusting
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 tbsp black treacle
2 tbsp golden syrup

For the toffee sauce:

500ml double cream
175g demerara sugar
175g butter
1 tbsp golden syrup
1 tbsp black treacle

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5.

  2. Butter a 20cm/8” square cake tin with butter and flour.

  3. Using the food mixer with a bowl and whisk attachment, blend the butter and sugar together.

  4. Place the dates and water into a saucepan and bring to the boil.

  5. Slowly add the golden syrup, treacle and eggs to the butter mixture and carry on mixing.

  6. Turn the mixer down to a slow speed and then add the flour.

  7. Once all the ingredients are combined, turn off the mixer.

  8. Purée the water and date mixture and add the bicarb of soda.

  9. Quickly add this mix while it is still hot to the egg mix.

  10. Once the mix is combined pour into the buttered and floured cake tin and bake for 1 – 1 ½ hours until the top is just firm to the touch.

  11. For the sauce: Put the cream in a saucepan and heat gently. Add the sugar and butter and whisk until melted. Whisk in the syrup and treacle.

  12. To serve: Turn the pudding out onto a plate, portion, spoon the sauce over the top and around, then finish with a dollop of ice cream.

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Little Sticky Toffee Puddings with Pecan Toffee Sauce

Begin by putting the chopped dates in a bowl and pouring 6 fl oz (175 ml) boiling water over them.

Then add the vanilla extract, coffee essence and bicarbonate of soda and leave on one side. Next, in a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar together, beating (preferably with an electric hand whisk) until the mixture is pale, light and fluffy. Now gradually add the beaten eggs, a little at a time, beating well after each addition. After that, carefully and lightly fold in the sifted flour using a metal spoon, and then you can fold in the date mixture (including the liquid). You’ll probably think at this stage that you’ve done something wrong, because the mixture will look very sloppy, but don’t worry: that is perfectly correct and the slackness of the mixture is what makes the puddings so light.

Now divide the mixture equally among the eight containers, place them on a baking tray and bake in the centre of the oven for 25 minutes. When they’re cooked, leave them to cool for 5 minutes, then, using a cloth to protect your hands, slide a small palette knife around each pudding and turn it out. If they have risen too much you may have to slice a little off the tops so that they can sit evenly on the plate. Now place the puddings on a shallow, Swiss-roll tin. Next, make the sauce by combining all the ingredients in a saucepan and heating very gently until the sugar has melted and all the crystals have dissolved.

To serve the puddings: pre-heat the grill to its highest setting, and pour the sauce evenly over the puddings. Place the tin under the grill, so the tops of the puddings are about 5 inches (13 cm) from the heat (knock off any nuts on the top to prevent them browning) and let them heat through for about 8 minutes. What will happen is the tops will become brown and slightly crunchy and the sauce will be hot and bubbling. Serve with chilled pouring cream or ice cream – and sit back to watch the looks of ecstasy on the faces of your guests.

Ultimate sticky toffee pudding

  1. Stone and chop the dates quite small, put them in a bowl, then pour the boiling water over. Leave for about 30 mins until cool and well-soaked, then mash a bit with a fork. Stir in the vanilla extract. Butter and flour seven mini pudding tins (each about 200ml/7fl oz) and sit them on a baking sheet. Heat oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4.

  2. While the dates are soaking, make the puddings. Mix the flour and bicarbonate of soda together and beat the eggs in a separate bowl. Beat the butter and sugar together in a large bowl for a few mins until slightly creamy (the mixture will be grainy from the sugar). Add the eggs a little at a time, beating well between additions. Beat in the black treacle then, using a large metal spoon, gently fold in one-third of the flour, then half the milk, being careful not to overbeat. Repeat until all the flour and milk is used. Stir the soaked dates into the pudding batter. The mix may look a little curdled at this point and will be like a soft, thick batter. Spoon it evenly between the tins and bake for 20-25 mins, until risen and firm.

  3. Meanwhile, put the sugar and butter for the sauce in a medium saucepan with half the cream. Bring to the boil over a medium heat, stirring all the time, until the sugar has completely dissolved. Stir in the black treacle, turn up the heat slightly and let the mixture bubble away for 2-3 mins until it is a rich toffee colour, stirring occasionally to make sure it doesn’t burn. Take the pan off the heat and beat in the rest of the cream.

  4. Remove the puddings from the oven. Leave in the tins for a few mins, then loosen them well from the sides of the tins with a small palette knife before turning them out. You can serve them now with the sauce drizzled over, but they’ll be even stickier if left for a day or two coated in the sauce. To do this, pour about half the sauce into one or two ovenproof serving dishes. Sit the upturned puddings on the sauce, then pour the rest of the sauce over them. Cover with a loose tent of foil so that the sauce doesn’t smudge (no need to chill).

  5. When ready to serve, heat oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Warm the puddings through, still covered, for 15-20 mins or until the sauce is bubbling. Serve them on their own, or with cream or custard.