You may be wondering what that oozy, creamy blob is pictured above? It’s sticky toffee pudding and it’s an oozy, creamy dish of yumminess that never fails to make Cream Puff feel good!
Being Canadian, I have always had a certain affinity for all things English. Canada, you see, was once an English colony. In fact, in Canada, the British Monarch is still recognized as the Head of State and is represented by the Governor General. So when Sam of Becks & Posh and Monkey Gland of Jam Faced announced that they would be hosting an event to commemorate St. George’s Day … well … how could I resist?
Without question, I knew I would make sticky toffee pudding. From the first time I made this dessert, I was hooked. It combines so many of my favourite things: dates, muscovado sugar, butter … and table cream.
While researching the history of sticky toffee pudding, I did come across some vague references to Scottish desserts. I, however, have decided that this is a truly English dessert. So shall it be written so shall it be done! The basis for this decision comes from the information I gleaned from the mighty Wikipedia which explained that sticky toffee pudding may have initially been called "icky sticky toffee pudding". Why, I have no idea, as there is nothing icky about it!
There are a couple of versions of how this dessert originated. One is that it was created in 1960 by a hotel owner named Francis Coulson who served the dessert at a hotel he owned located near the Scottish border (could possibly explain references to this being a Scottish dessert). The other version is that the pudding was created in 1907 by the landlady of an inn in Millington. Either way, I’m grateful for the dessert’s invention.
My sticky toffee pudding is based on the version in Nigella Lawson’s Nigella Bites. Now I know people have mixed feelings about Nigella and the role she has taken in representing British food. Some people like her and some people don’t. I have to admit I am a Nigella fan. When it comes to food personalities, especially those on television, I always judge them on the success of their recipes when I try them at home. In Nigella’s case, I must give credit where credit is due. Every recipe that I’ve tried from her books has turned out well. Her recipes are easy to follow and they work. I can’t argue with that!
Plus, I am endlessly fascinated by the way she stuffs food into her mouth. I know, I know. I’m falling victim to unadulterated television manipulation but I don’t care. She’s transfixing. Like the episode of Nigella Bites where she bakes a Yorkshire pudding and then promptly cuts a piece for herself, drowns it in cream and syrup and then gorges on it, all before serving her guests.
I like to use Medjool dates in my version of this pudding. Quite simply, they are heaven with a pit in the middle. Fortunately the pit comes out very easily! If you have any dates left over, stuff them with mascarpone or cream cheese for a treat. This dessert is very easy to pull together. You mix it in one bowl and into the baking dish it goes. It belongs to the family of "self-saucing puddings" which means that by some scientific miracle, during baking, a spongy cake rises to the top and a sinfully rich sauce forms at the bottom. I have no idea how it happens. And to be honest I don’t much care. As long as I get my spongy cake and rich sauce, I’m a satisfied Cream Puff!
So Happy St. George’s Day to all! Pour yourselves a pint, have some fish and chips and enjoy some sticky toffee pudding.
God Save the Queen!
Easy Sticky-Toffee Pudding
Adapted from Nigella Bites by Nigella Lawson.
For the cake:
- 100 g (3-1/2 ounces) dark muscovado sugar
- 175 g (6 ounces) self-raising flour
- 125 ml (1/2 cup) whole milk
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 50 g (about 2 ounces) unsalted butter, melted
- 200 g (7 oz) chopped dates (I used Medjool dates)
For the sauce:
- 200 g (1 cup) dark muscovado sugar
- approximately 25 g (about 1 ounce) unsalted butter (to top the pudding), broken into little pieces
- 500 ml (2 cups) boiling water
To assemble the pudding:
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C, or if you’re British, gas mark 5).
- Generously butter a baking dish that has a capacity of 1-1/2 litres.
- In a bowl, combine the muscovado sugar and the flour. Make sure there are no lumps!
- Pour the milk into a measuring cup and beat in the egg, vanilla and melted butter. Mix well.
- Pour the milk mixture into the sugar and flour mixture and mix until just combined.
- Fold in the dates.
- Spoon the mixture into the prepared baking dish and spread evenly across the bottom of the dish. This doesn’t make a lot of batter but don’t worry, it will rise to fill your baking dish.
- Sprinkle the 200 g (1 cup) of muscovado sugar over the top of the batter. Dot with the 25 g of butter.
- Pour the boiling water over everything. Yes … I know … it sounds strange but trust me … it works!
- Bake for 45 minutes, or until the cake is springy when touched.
- Remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes. When you cut into it, you will have a lovely sponge cake on top and the most delicious sauce on the bottom.
- Serve with ice cream, whipped cream or do as I do and just pour lovely table cream over the whole thing.
Note: This recipe serves 6-8 people. It can be doubled to feed a crowd.