Sticky Toffee Pudding

Many years after first tasting this dessert in a restaurant and after the exact same number of years of threatening to make sticky toffee pudding at home, finding this version in Nigella Lawson’s At My Table finally prompted me to get cooking.

I’m glad I did. Even though I had some problems — dates that were dried out (which made them very difficult to chop), similarly dried out molasses which was troublesome to get out of the container and into the mixing bowl, a scramble to confirm that what I thought bicarbonate of soda was was correct and forgetting to take the butter out of the refrigerator to get to room temperature — everything worked out in the end.

This pudding is delicious. The “savage intensity” of the flavour, which also reminded me of liquorice, suited me perfectly. In fact, I think my eyes may have rolled back in my head a bit when I first tasted it.

Watch what happened.

Found the dates, realized they were very hard but decided to soldier on. Chopped them, which is a good way to be sure there are no pits.


Put the dates into a bowl with baking soda and poured hot water over. Left them to soak.

Add heated water (a whatfoodimade action shot!).

Got on with making the pudding.

Measured the molasses and butter into a bowl.

Molasses and butter.

Measured and added the darkest brown sugar I had.

Very dark brown sugar.

Added the eggs, one at a time.

After the eggs are added.

Then added the dry ingredients: flour and baking powder.

Flour and baking powder.

Looked like this before the final ingredient was added.

Almost batter.

Added the dates and the water they were soaking in.

Add the soaked dates.

Poured the batter into a prepared baking dish and put it in the oven for 30 minutes.

Ready for the oven.

Moved on to making the sauce.

Melted the butter together with some more molasses and dark brown sugar.

Butter, molasses and dark brown sugar.

Added the cream and cooked over high heat until this was bubbling.

Add the cream (another whatfoodimade action shot!).

Cake part was finished! Poked many holes into the cake with a toothpick.

Out of the oven, ready for poking.

Poured a quarter of the freshly made sauce over.

Pour a quarter of the sauce over (a third whatfoodimade action shot!).

Waited in anticipation for 25 minutes until the pudding was ready to eat.

Covered with much of the sauce.

Topped with more sauce: Sticky Toffee Pudding.

Sticky Toffee Pudding.

Here’s the recipe, in British. I translated.

Sticky Toffee Pudding

My STP is altogether deeper and darker than the original version: it is still sweet, but the muscovado sugar and black treacle give it an almost savage intensity. It seems redolent of ginger, cloves, allspice – and yet none of these spices are used. It’s a miracle. I don’t understand it – but then, miracles are not to be questioned.

Equipment: You will need a 9 x 9″ square baking dish.

Preparation time: less than 30 mins
Cooking time: 30 mins to 1 hour
Serves: 9


For the sponge

7 oz soft dried pitted dates, roughly chopped
3/4 cup water from a freshly boiled kettle
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
5 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened, plus more for greasing
2 Tbsp black treacle (molasses)
1/4 cup dark muscovado sugar
2 large free-range eggs, at room temperature
1-1/4 cups plain flour
2 tsp baking powder

For the sauce

10 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1-1/2 cups dark muscovado sugar
1 Tbsp black treacle (still molasses)
3/4 cups double cream (heavy cream), plus more to serve


Preheat the oven to 350°F and lightly grease your dish.

Put the chopped dates, boiling water and bicarbonate of soda into a bowl, stir and then leave for 10 minutes.

Cream the butter and black treacle together in a stand mixer until well mixed, then add the sugar and mix again, beating out any lumps. Beat in an egg and keep beating – scraping down as necessary – until completely incorporated, then do the same with the other egg. Beating more gently, add the flour and baking powder until you have a smooth, thick batter.

Using a fork, stir the soaked dates, squishing them a bit, then pour the dates and their liquid into the batter and beat gently to mix in.

Pour and scrape into your prepared dish or cake tin and bake for 30–35 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.

Meanwhile, to make the sauce, melt the butter, muscovado sugar and treacle over a very low heat in a heavy-based saucepan. Once the butter’s melted, stir gently until everything else is melted too. Now stir in the cream, then turn up the heat and when it’s bubbling and hot, take it off the heat.

As soon as it’s out of the oven, prick the cooked sponge pudding all over with a cocktail stick and pour about a quarter of the warm sauce over, easing it to the edges with a spatula so that the sponge is entirely topped with a thick sticky glaze. Put a lid on the remaining sauce in the pan to keep it warm.

Leave the pudding to stand for 20–30 minutes, then take to the table, with the rest of the sauce in a jug, and cream to serve.

Recipe Tips
It shouldn’t be eaten piping hot, but warm; once the sponge has been topped with a glaze of the sauce, and had its 30 minute waiting time, it will be at optimum temperature. And cold – should you have any leftovers – a slab of it cut from the dish tastes like the most magnificent sticky gingerbread.


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