Sticky toffee pudding

This is an absolute stone cold classic pud for a reason – it’s completely, utterly, delicious. A sticky date filled cake combined with tooth achingly sweet butterscotch sauce, all resistance is futile when faced with a bowl or plateful, and basically life is too short to deny yourself from this delight. This particular recipe is by Raymond Blanc, although I’ve doubled all of the quantities because a) it fitted into my tin better and b) why wouldn’t you want double the amount of sticky toffee pudding? And yes I know my sauce could be more caramelised, but I’m too chicken to let it brown too much for fear of it burning, so err on the side of caution (it still tastes amazing).

Ingredients

Cake:

260g pitted dates

450ml water

2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

2 tsp vanilla bean paste

80g soft unsalted butter

260g dark muscovado sugar

4 large eggs

260g plain flour

Butterscotch:

130g unsalted butter

180g demerara sugar

180ml double cream

Method

  1. Make this bit first so that it can cool completely before you want to really get cracking – put the dates, water, bicarb, and vanilla in a small saucepan and let it bubble away for 5 minutes until the dates are really soft.
  2. Remove from the heat, mash with a fork or potato masher, then leave it to cool. If I forget to do this bit earlier then I scrape and spread it onto a plate and fling it in the fridge to help it on its way.
  3. Heat your oven to 150C fan, grease and line a 23cm square baking tin, or similar. I use a large piece of paper with plenty of overhang that I can use as handles later to lift the cake from the tin. A round tin would work too, no-one cares what shape their piece of sticky toffee pudding will be!
  4. Use an electric hand held whisk, free standing mixer, or a whole lot of elbow grease to beat together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, then beat in the eggs – it will be pretty liquid.
  5. Beat in the cooled dates mixture.
  6. Sift in the flour, use a spatular to fold and mix in completely, then pour and scrape into the prepared tin.
  7. Bake for 40 minutes or so, until a knife poked into the centre comes out clean.
  8. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then lift out by the paper and leave to cool some more.
  9. Make the sauce by heating the butter and sugar in a saucepan for a good 10 minutes until bubbling away and the sugar has dissolved – watch out! It will be as hot as molten lava! If you can hold your nerve better than I can then allow it to darken but not burn (which can happen in the blink of an eye).
  10. Remove from the heat and stir in the cream then leave to cool a bit otherwise you’ll burn your tongue.
  11. To serve, a scoop of vanilla ice-cream would be a welcome addition, but I don’t really need to tell you that do I?

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