This sticky toffee pudding recipe is an absolutely perfect dessert in every way. It’s got a not-too-sweet cake base (that’s actually kind of more like the texture of a muffin) filled with pureed dates, a sweet toffee sauce with notes of caramel, and a side of fresh whipped cream to cut any lingering sweetness.
What is sticky toffee pudding?
Sticky toffee pudding, or sticky date pudding, is a date sponge cake (pudding) with toffee sauce. This recipe was adapted from Francis Coulson, who most people credit as the original recipe creator of sticky date/toffee pudding, though as with many recipes, the origins are disputed. I like to serve it with a side of whipped cream, but ice cream or custard sauces are also common.
How do I make sticky toffee pudding?
- First, make the cake batter. You will hydrate dates, puree them into a smooth paste, and mix the date puree into the cake batter. Bake until just a toothpick prodded into the center of the cake yields just a few crumbs.
- Next, make the toffee sauce, a mixture of butter, brown sugar, heavy cream, salt, and vanilla extract.
- Pour the toffee sauce onto the cake and broil it for a couple minutes, just until the sauce seeps in and caramelizes on the top.
- Finally, assemble the dessert. Serve the cake in individual slices, top with a little extra warmed toffee sauce, and serve with a side of whipped cream.
What ingredients are in sticky toffee pudding?
There are a few key ingredients for this dessert recipes. Let’s delve into them.
- Pitted dates: Dates are an essential ingredient in this recipe, creating additional moisture and flavor in the cake. I have seen the recipe done with prunes, as well, but I’d recommend using dates to see how you like it before experimenting. I prefer Medjool dates, but you can use whatever dates you like. Make sure the dates are pitted before proceeding with the recipe.
- Brown sugar: Brown sugar brings a sweet molasses flavor and pairs well with the dates. I have used both light and dark brown sugar with success here; use dark brown sugar for a stronger, richer flavor.
- Cream: Cream is used to make the toffee base, as well as the whipped cream. You can use either heavy cream or heavy whipping cream in both components with equal success.
- Flaky salt: This is optional, but I feel the flaky salt in the toffee sauce and garnished on top of the cake helps balance the sweetness of the dish.
What’s the quickest way to prepare sticky toffee pudding?
The recipe can be adapted so that you can make this dish as quickly or as make-ahead as possible.
- To quickly make the pudding, prepare and bake the cake. As the cake bakes, make the whipped cream and keep in the fridge until ready to serve, and prepare the toffee sauce. Remove the cake from the oven, then pour the toffee sauce on the cake, bake in the oven, and serve warm with whipped cream on the side. This method will produce the moistest, lightest cake.
- To make the pudding ahead of time, you can prepare each component separately. This is a great option for a dinner party, where you might have several other dishes you need to work on at the same time. You can bake the cake, make the toffee sauce, and broil it in the oven. Then, let the cake cool completely and wrap tightly in plastic wrap; keep in the fridge for up to 2 days. To rewarm the pudding, remove the plastic wrap and cover with aluminum foil. Reheat in the oven at 350F for 5 minutes, then remove the cover, and reheat for an additional few minutes until warmed through. Make the whipped cream while the cake rewarms in the oven. As noted above, this method can create a slightly denser, drier cake, but is still very delicious! This is also a great way to reheat leftover pieces of cake.
What kind of cake pan do I need?
The recipe calls for an 8-inch by 8-inch cake pan, but I’ve had success with a 9-inch cake pan as well (you’ll just have a thinner cake and a faster bake time — about 25 to 30 minutes instead of 30 to 35). You can also bake the cake in individual 4 ounce or 6 ounce ramekins, but the bake time will likely vary slightly as well.
Recipe: Sticky Toffee Pudding
For the date cake
- Vegetable oil or nonstick cooking spray
- About 8 to 9 pitted Medjool dates (6 ounces)
- 3/4 cup (177 ml) water
- 4 tablespoons 56g butter, at room temperature
- 3/4 cup (144g) packed brown sugar
- 1 (57g) large egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups (188g) all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- Flaky salt for topping (optional)
For the toffee sauce
- 1 stick (113g butter)
- 3/4 cup (144g) packed brown sugar
- 1/2 cup (120ml) heavy whipping cream or heavy cream
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Pinch of flaky sea salt for topping (optional)
For the whipped cream
- 1 cup (250ml) heavy whipping cream or heavy cream, chilled
- 2 tablespoons (16g to 1/4 cup )(32g) powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Make the date cake
- Position a baking rack in the bottom third of the oven and one in the top third of the oven, then preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Oil an 8-inch x 8-inch square cake pan and line with parchment paper.
- Make the date puree: In a saucepan, add dates and water, and bring to a boil, then turn the heat off. Cover and let sit for 10 minutes. Blend date-water mixture to a smooth paste and set aside to cool slightly so that the puree isn’t hot enough to curdle the eggs.
- Mix dry ingredients: In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and whisk until combined.
- Mix wet ingredients: In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar at medium speed until batter resembles a thick homogeneous dough, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add in the egg and vanilla and beat until fully incorporated and thick and ribbony. Reduce speed to medium-low, and slowly add in the date puree and beat until combined.
- Finish the batter: Reduce the speed to low, and slowly add in the dry ingredients. Batter will be thick, like buttercream frosting.
- Bake the cake: Pour into the cake pan and bake on the bottom-third rack for 30 to 35 minutes, until a toothpick comes out with just a few crumbs. Remove cake from the oven and prick all over with a fork. Make the whipped cream and toffee sauce while the cake bakes (see below for instructions).
Make the whipped cream
- Wipe the bowl of the stand mixer clean, and add cream, 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar, and vanilla extract. Using the whip attachment, whip at medium speed until mixture just begins to thicken (about 1 to 2 minutes). This prevents the cream from spraying everywhere. TIP: Whipped cream whips better at a colder temperature, so if you have time, I recommend rinsing the stand mixer with very cold water, then drying completely before making the cream.
- Taste and adjust powdered sugar if needed. Then, increase the speed to medium-high and whip for an additional 1 to 2 minutes until stiff peaks form. Keep chilled in the fridge, covered, until ready to serve.
Prepare the toffee sauce and finish the cake
- In a small saucepan over low heat, add butter and whisk in brown sugar. Increase heat to medium, whisking frequently until butter melts. Once the mixture starts to bubble, add heavy cream, kosher salt, and vanilla extract. Let sauce bubble and simmer for 3 minutes until slightly thickened (lower the heat as needed if it begins to bubble up). Sauce will thicken as it cools. Remove from the heat and sprinkle with additional flaky salt if desired.
- Turn the broiler on to ‘HI’. Pour 3/4 cup of the toffee sauce on top of the cake; reserve the remaining toffee sauce for pouring on top later. Broil on the top-third rack for anywhere from 1 to 3 minutes, until the toffee sauce begins to bubble and caramelize on top of the cake. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly. You will want to serve the cake while it’s still warm, but it should be cool enough to handle.
- Just before serving, re-warm the reserved toffee sauce. Cut the cake in individual slices, then transfer to individual dessert plates and pour additional toffee sauce and flaky salt on top, if desired. Serve with whipped cream on the side (if you dollop with whipped cream on top, the warm cake may cause the cream to melt).