I didn’t try Sticky Toffee Pudding until about 5 years ago. I felt robbed: how, in 30 years, had I never eaten this heavenly cake? Instead of feeling sorry for myself, I took action. I had to make up for the years lost by coming up with my own recipe. The perfect recipe. And today, I’m sharing it with you, just in time to include on your Christmas table.
This recipe was developed by combining what were, to me, the best aspects of recipes from trusted sources like Martha Stewart, David Lebovitz and others. I started by trying each inspiration recipe as written, then experimenting with different combinations. The result is a super moist cake, flavored with hints of cinnamon, allspice and coffee (yes, coffee!), drenched in the tastiest toffee sauce I’ve ever eaten.
It’s an easy cake to make, and though it’s best straight out of the oven the first time around, I’ve developed a way that you can make it ahead without sacrificing taste or texture. This was important since I mostly make this for Christmas, when I have tons of other cooking to do or am bringing the cake to someone else’s house.
Go ahead and try it: taste the magic that is my traditional Sticky Toffee Pudding. You can see from my Christmas menu that I’ll be doing the same.
Sticky Toffee Pudding
For the cake
8 ounces dates, pitted and finely chopped
1 c boiling water
1 1/2 c flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch ground cloves
pinch fresh nutmeg
1 stick salted butter, softened
1 c packed light brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp instant coffee
For the toffee sauce
1 1/2 stick unsalted butter
1 c heavy cream
1 c packed light brown sugar
2 Tbsp molasses
pinch of salt
1. Place chopped dates in bowl and pour the boiling water over them. Allow dates to soak for 40-60 minutes. In the meantime, preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 9″ round baking pan. Line the pan with parchment paper and butter the parchment, too.
2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, allspice, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. Set aside.
3. Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar in large bowl until light and fluffy. Add 1 egg and beat to combine well. Add a second egg and combine well again. Add half of the flour mixture and combine well. Add remaining eggs and vanilla. Combine well before, finally, combining remaining flour.
4. Mix instant coffee into dates that have been sitting for at least 40 minutes. Stir to dissolve the granules and add the date mixture to your batter. Beat to blend well. Pour the batter into your prepared pan and bake for 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. (See below for make-ahead version.)
5. While the cake is baking, make your toffee sauce: combine butter, cream, sugar and molasses in a medium saucepan set over medium heat. Stir continually until butter melts and sugar dissolves. Turn heat to medium low and allow the sauce to gently simmer, stirring occasionally, until it thickens, about 8 minutes.
6. Assemble the cake: Allow the cake to rest in pan for 5 minutes before setting it onto a cooling rack placed over a rimmed baking sheet. Poke holes all over the top and while still warm, but not too hot, pour toffee sauce over the top. Allow sauce to seep in and pour another layer. Repeat 1-2 more times, depending on how soaked/sweet you want it. You’ll have some sauce left over — save it for spooning individual servings.
*To make ahead:
Bake cake for for 35-40 minutes. A toothpick inserted into the center should come out mostly clean, but with a little bit of batter stuck to it. Allow the cake to rest in its pan for 5 minutes before pulling it out. Keep the parchment paper attached and store the cake in an airtight container. If keeping the cake just overnight, leave it on the counter. Otherwise, store it in the fridge. About 30-40 minutes before serving, put room temperature cake, still in its parchment paper with foil wrapped all around, into an oven preheated to 350 degrees. (If you’ve been keeping the cake in the fridge, be sure to set it out with plenty of time to come back to room temp.) Bake for 25 minutes to warm through. While the cake is baking, make your toffee sauce and resume recipe at step 5.