Sticky Toffee Pudding

Okay, so this was meant to be baked and posted yesterday, but my boyfriend and I got embroiled in making a late dinner and chatting to housemates, and before we knew it it was 1am and I was too sleepy to be trusted with anything meticulous like weighing out ingredients. I actually made this pudding earlier this evening with my old (that’s former, not ancient) housemates – a lovely reunion that included many rounds of my new game, Bananagrams (thank you to my lovely Valentine who knows me so well!), and a delicious dinner of Chinese porridge followed by the very English Sticky Toffee pudding ūüôā

Nothing like a saucy pud on a cold night.

Nothing like a saucy pud on a cold night.

Anyway, Happy Valentine’s Day to all and let’s pretend I have kept up with blog posts and today is still Friday.¬†healthy-valentines-heart

More properly named St Valentine’s Day, the celebration began in honour of the early Christian¬†saint Valentine of Rome¬†or¬†Valentine of Terni, depending on the denomination of Christianity followed, at around AD500. The tradition of giving gifts of flowers or confectionery and sending greeting cards evolved in 18th century England, which lead to the mass-production of Valentine’s Cards from the 19th century onwards, eventually earning the day the accolade of a ‘Hallmark holiday’ for some as a result of its increasing commercialisation. Today, Valentine’s is still celebrated in many countries around the world, and as part of the calendar of various Christian denominations, such as Anglicans and Lutherans. It is also called the Feast of Saint Valentine…an excellent excuse to bake some delicious treats, no?

However you celebrated, or indeed if you didn’t, making this Sticky Toffee Pudding would be a wonderful way to:

a. show someone ¬†you care through putting thought and effort into a special bake¬†(and ‘someone’ here includes yourself by the way ¬†– caring for the self is no less important than caring for others¬†in my book!)¬†and

b. stave off the misery that freezing rain/sleet/snow/hail and ferocious, biting winds can afflict you with in these cold months.

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The recipe is from a newly-found blog, Poires au Chocolat,¬†that I really enjoy reading, which is included in my ‘Delicious and Inspirational Food Blogs’ page as well as linked to above. I’ve taken a small detour away from Mary Berry’s Baking Bible recipes because, shock horror, there is no Sticky Toffee Pudding in the book, and once I’d seen Emma’s version on Poires au Chocolat¬†I couldn’t wait to try it – I hope she doesn’t mind my reproducing the recipe here and will include the link to her original recipe at the end of the post. Emma¬†posted Sticky Toffee Pudding as part of her blog’s¬†Pudding Month¬†– what a brilliant idea! Who doesn’t love a steamy, stodgy, saucy traditional pudding in the winter time? The sauce in this version is slightly salted which I am also a big fan of; avoiding a sweetness overload and adding an extra dimension which makes the whole eating experience a but more interesting and memorable. If you are steadfastly sweet-toothed, feel free to omit the salt though ūüôā

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I had never made sticky toffee pudding at all before, so had my fingers crossed that it would go down well with my housemates, and my other, probably slightly more discerning, critic: my stomach. I am pleased to report that it was a success! Its fun and surprisingly easy to make ¬†– I feel like I could wap it out again tomorrow if necessary, though my poor sugar-coated teeth might object to that…

Ingredients:

  • 100g dates
  • 90g caster sugar
  • 40g unsalted butter
  • 125ml boiling water
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract (or paste if you have it)
  • 1 egg
  • 90g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • a pinch of fine sea salt
  • 150ml double cream
  • 50g butter
  • 100g soft light brown sugar
  • salt, to taste

Step 1. Chop the dates, some small chunks, some big, or depending on how textured you want the pudding to be. Measure out the caster sugar into a wide, heavy-bottomed pan and then weigh out but don’t add the other ingredients – you want them all ready so you can concentrate on your caramel mixture, not burning it while rushing around madly looking for the vanilla extract.

Step 2. Melt the sugar over a medium high heat on the hob. DO NOT STIR. It’s tempting, but resist. Shake the sugar gently into the middle of the pan to melt it if needed, but otherwise wait patiently til it turns a deep bronze colour. Remove from the heat as you add the butter. NOW stir as it bubbles, then carefully pour in the boiling water, vanilla and chopped dates.

Step 3. Mix the caramel together until everything is melted and smooth (except the dates, obviously they won’t melt). Stand it aside to cool for ten minutes or so.

Step 4. Now you have a nice little window in which you should: preheat the oven to 180C/Gas Mark 4, line a small baking dish with baking paper and whisk an egg in a separate bowl or jug. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into the date caramel, beating thoroughly, then combine with the beaten egg.

Step 5. Pour the mixture into the baking dish and transfer to the oven for 25 minutes. The cake is ready when a skewer poked into the centre or deepest part of the sponge comes out clean. Whilst it bakes, make the sauce. Put the butter, cream and brown sugar into a small saucepan and heat gently. Stir often until the sauce is a smooth and glossy light brown. Add salt bit by bit and keep tasting it – this is essential, don’t just chuck in a teaspoon and leave it at that. The salted caramel, besides being one of the best dessert sauces ever invented, holds the pudding back from otherwise being unpleasantly sickly sweet.

Step 6. When the cake is cooked, the sauce should be ready – pour a portion of the toffee sauce over the pudding, covering the top. Pop it back in the oven for 3 minutes while you grab the bowls, spoons and ice cream. Serve hot with the extra sauce, and preferably ice cream. So good!

Source: Thank you very much to Emma at Poires an Chocolat, this recipe is a keeper! Here is the original recipe on her blog: http://www.poiresauchocolat.net/2014/01/sticky-toffee-pudding.html x

**Notes**

None really…I didn’t change anything for once! Be aware that when I said small baking dish, it really is quite a weeny pudding compared to what you might think. Mine served six comfortably though – its too rich to go back for seconds!

Definitely one of my new favourite puddings :)

Definitely one of my new favourite puddings ūüôā

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