By Lisa Fielding of Secret Ingredients
Once upon a time I was the producing partner of the actress Minnie Driver, our company was called Two Drivers. She is British, I am not, but we shared many British sensibilities including our love of British novelists and sticky toffee pudding. (It always comes down to food.) During the several years we worked together, I became a self-ascribed Anglophile and, among many other Britishy affectations I adopted, I learned that “pudding” is how a proper Englishman refers to dessert. Sticky toffee pudding is actually a moist date cake smothered in rich buttery toffee sauce and is nothing akin to an American version of pudding. It is about a million times better, in fact. So after years of eating sticky toffee pudding whilst (another one of my favorite words) traveling to London for work, I took it upon myself to bake the dessert and then perfect the end result.
This is it. And you don’t have to be in love with anything British to fall madly in love with this gorgeously rich dessert. Plus, it's super easy. The most complicated part is getting the toffee right, so go slow and steady and you’ll hit the sweet spot of making toffee. I choose to soak the cake in the toffee and save a little sauce for later when I plate the dessert. Served warm with a big dollop of whipped cream, it's heaven on the palate. Once you polish off a serving of this “pudding,” you might find yourself thinking: that was bloody well delicious!
Sticky Toffee Pudding
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
1 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
1 1/2 cups chopped pitted dates (about 6 ounces)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 1/4 cups (packed) light brown sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 teaspoon brandy (optional)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream
Special equipment: A 6-cup cake pan or 6 one-cup Bundt pan molds
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour cake pan(s). Bring dates and 1 1/4 cups water to a boil in a medium heavy saucepan with tall sides. Remove from heat; stir in baking soda (mixture will become foamy). Set aside; let cool.
2. Whisk 1 1/2 cups flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat 1/4 cup butter, sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl to blend (mixture will be grainy). Add 1 egg; beat to blend. Add half of flour mixture and half of date mixture; beat to blend. Repeat with remaining 1 egg, flour mixture, and date mixture. Pour batter into mold.
3. Bake until a tester inserted into center of cake comes out clean, 40-45 minutes. Let cool in pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Invert pudding onto rack. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and let stand at room temperature.
1. Bring sugar, cream, and butter to a boil in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly. Continue to boil, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in brandy, if using, and vanilla. DO AHEAD: Can be made 4 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature. Rewarm gently before using.
2. Place cake on a plate and pierce with a wooden skewer in several places. Slowly pour half of the sauce over cake making sure it evenly coats cake and soaks into the holes. Allow to sit for at least one hour.
3. Cut cake into wedges. Serve with warmed extra sauce and whipped or ice cream.