This Christmas season, I ventured a out of my comfort zone and set out to investigate new Christmas treats. Baking a British “Christmas Cake” (a cake with a fruit cake base) was tempting, but I’ve been short on time lately, so I’m saving that project for next Christmas. Then I arrived at Sticky Toffee Pudding. The name, “Sticky Toffee Pudding,” drew me in like bees to honey. Visions of a sweet, gooey dessert floated in my brain. This traditional cake–dark, mysterious and, more importantly, drenched in a toffee/caramel sauce–is soooo good. I can’t believe that I just recently discovered its existence. Thank goodness for The Great British Bake Off TV show, which introduced me to so many wonderful traditional British desserts. While it’s not necessary a Christmas cake, I understand that some families make it their Christmas tradition. That’s good enough for me to classify this as a Christmas cake, uh, pudding.
Contrary to what the name suggests, dates predominate the pudding/cake. And then there is the toffee sauce. I’ve mainly seen the pudding baked in a rectangular pan, like for a sheet cake, or in individual serving pans. But for an eye-catching way of displaying the pudding for a festive feast, I turned to may favorite, the Bundt pan–the large, 10-inch size pan of course!
Here is how my Sticky Toffee Pudding adventure went:
I needed to chop up a pound of dates.
Next, I threw the dates into a saucepan, covered them in 2 cups water, brought it all to a boil, and let the dates boil in the water for 3 minutes. I then mashed the dates up (without draining the water) with my potato masher. Pureeing in a food processor is another option.
Separately, I then beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, and then added in the eggs. That’s the last time this mixture will look so light in color!
A weird step, to me at least, is to mix baking soda into the dates. A chemical reaction occurs and it all foams up and lightens in color! (No worries–it doesn’t bubble over like a volcano.)
Now it was time to mix in the dates and the flour, alternating between the two. You don’t want to overmix, so either mix by hand or on the lowest speed if using an electric mixer. I’ve seen recipes that add spices to the flour, but I stuck to the basics for my first try at making this cake. I’ve also seen recipes where some molasses is added. Ah, that will be for next time.
I poured the mixture into the Bundt pan and popped it in the oven for about one hour.
Before the cake–uh, pudding–is ready to come out of the oven, I prepared the toffee sauce by mixing brown sugar, honey, butter, and cream and bringing it to a boil. Remember not to cook the mixture too long (literally just a couple of minutes), or you will have a sandy, unpourable disaster–speaking from recent experience.
Here is the pudding out of the oven and turned out of the pan.
While the cake was still hot, I brushed on about half of the sauce. I probably should have poked holes into the top of the cake so the sauce could seep deeper into the cake, but I opted for an unblemished look.
I let the pudding/cake sit at room temperature overnight.
When I cut into the pudding on the next day, I noticed that the sauce did not penetrate the outer layer, and there were pieces of dates. This wasn’t a problem because the cake was still moist, but next time, I would like to poke holes into the cake, puree the dates and compare which version is better.
When I served slices of it, I rewarmed the remaining sauce and poured it over each slice. Actually, the pudding can be (should be) served warm with warm sauce, and even can be served with some whipped cream on the side and more sauce. Enjoy!