Warm Sticky Toffee Pudding Recipe

spooning toffee

In my high school locker room, when the jocks congregated after winning a big game, they’d all jump around, yelling the word, “Sah-weet! Sah-weet! adding a big, tight, thumbs-up for emphasis, while jumping all over each other celebrating their victory.

While not as exciting as a group of sweaty, nearly-naked high school athletes jumping all over each other, I don’t know about you, but what turns me on these days is Sticky Toffee Pudding.

sticky toffee pudding

This recipe is from Mani Niall’s book Sweet!, which features various sweeteners in all their guises. From sprinkles of dark brown sugar, to swirls of agave nectar and viscous golden syrup, this book celebrates all things sweet.

(Mani is an old friend of mine from my San Francisco days, and if you’re interested in some tales of the city that are probably better off left unsaid, there was one night of excess where I single-handedly stopped a cable car in Chinatown, and later that evening was whipped by a clown at Fisherman’s Wharf. Which, I’m sure, gave the tourists from the Midwest some colorful stories to tell their friends at home. I was encouraged by some to share more of those sordid stories here, but after telling you about the high school jocks, I don’t want to get you too worked up…)

golden syrup & treacle les dattes

One of things people often complain about “natural” foods is that they’re too expensive. Yes, this bag of unrefined cane sugar, called açúcar mascavo organico that I used to make this dessert, cost me around €3 at the Salon del Gusto I went to a few months back. It’s about twice what a similar-sized bag of refined white sugar would have set me back. But it has so much flavor, that even at three or four times the price, it’s still a great value. So don’t feel so guilty about occasionally going au naturel if you want.

making toffee

Sticky Toffee Pudding demands to be served warm. I mean, think about it: soft dates, gobs of toffee, and buttery cake. If you’re going to eat a cake smothered in creamy, sugary toffee sauce, if you don’t eat it warm, you’re missing out on of one life’s great pleasures. Thankfully, Mani offers two ways to make this. The instructions below are for those seeking immediate gratification, and the notes after the recipe offer a do-ahead alternative, for those seeking delayed gratification.

I’ve been meaning to make Sticky Toffee Pudding for years now, almost since my high school days, which are, unfortunately, a little too far behind me. So although I’m fully-clothed, and not fraternizing with strapping young high school jocks anymore, I’m jumping around my kitchen, yelling “Sweet!” anyways.

corner of toffee

Sticky Toffee Pudding with Dates and Candied Ginger
Eight servings

Adapted from Sweet! (Da Capo) by Mani Niall

Because I like the play of sweet and spicy, I added a handful of chopped candied ginger to the recipe. You can use Golden Syrup, which is one of the best sweeteners ever. I also made a batch with treacle from England, which is similar to molasses, and it was excellent, too.

Like my high school locker room, things got a little out of hand here, and I ended up making Sticky Toffee Pudding twice this week, the second time in my Baker’s Edge pan. If using one, bake the pudding for 35 to 40 minutes.

For the toffee sauce

2 cups (500ml) heavy cream
1/2 cup (90g) demerara or muscovado sugar (or another dark brown sugar)
2 1/2 tablespoons golden syrup or molasses
pinch of salt

For the pudding

  • 6 ounces (180g) pitted dates, snipped or chopped
  • 1 cup (250ml) water
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • optional: 1/3 cup (40g) candied ginger, chopped
  • 1 1/4 cups (175g) flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 4 tablespoons (55g) unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 350F (190C) and butter an 8 1/2-inch (24cm) porcelain soufflé dish (or similar-sized baking dish.)

2. Make the toffee sauce by bringing the cream, demerara or turbinado sugar, golden syrup (or molasses) and salt to a boil in a medium saucepan, stirring often to melt the sugar.

3. Lower heat and simmer, stirring constantly for about 5 minutes, until the mixture is thick and coats the spoon. Pour half the sauce into the prepared soufflé dish and place the dish in the freezer, and reserve the other half for serving.

4. To make the pudding, in a medium saucepan, heat the dates and water. Once the water begins to boil, remove from heat and stir in the baking soda. Add the ginger, if using, then set aside, but keep it slightly warm.

5. In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

6. In the bowl of a standing electric mixer, or by hand, beat the butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs, then the vanilla. (Don’t be alarmed if the mixture looks a bit curdled.)

7. Stir in half of the flour mixture, then the date mixture, then add the remaining flour mixture until just mixed. Don’t overbeat the batter.

8. Remove the soufflé dish from the freezer and scrape the batter into the soufflé dish and bake for 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with moist crumbs attached.

9. Remove the pudding from the oven, and let cool slightly before serving.

Serving: Spoon portions of the cake into serving bowls and douse with additional warm toffee sauce. Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream are good accompaniments, although I enjoy it just as it is.

Note: To make the pudding in advance, bake the cake without the toffee in the bottom. Let cool, then cover until close to serving time. Poke the cake about fifteen times with a chopstick. Distribute half of the sauce over the top, as shown in the photo, cover with foil, then re-warm in a 300F (150C) oven, for 30 minutes.

sweet.jpg

Related links and recipes:

Some of my other favorite baking books of the year.

Peanut Butter Cookies with Salted Peanut Caramel

Vietnamese Caramel Pork Ribs

Upside Down Cake

Salted Butter Caramel Ice Cream

Carnitas

Chez Panisse Almond Tart

Chocolate-Covered Caramelized Matzoh Crunch

Homemade Dulce de Leche


59 comments

  • One of my most favorite desserts ever! You’ve inspired me to finally make it myself.
    Merci!

  • Well I, for one, would love to hear about the clown incident at Fisherman’s Wharf. One time, the “bush man” at the wharf got me when I walked past him hiding behind the bushes. That was embarrassing.
    I have only had Trader Joe’s sticky toffee pudding. I loved it, but I’m sure this is so much better!

  • What was funny was just yesterday, as I was typing this up, in my Inbox came a message from another cookbook author whose book was about to be reprinted and he wanted to update the recipe I’d given him for his book, which was…Sticky Toffee Pudding!

    I completely forgot that somewhere, in my repertoire, I have my own recipe for this. I guess I had my mine on writing up other things around here. Speaking of which, I’d better keep the clown story to myself.

    I have a reputation to uphold around here, you know…
    ; )

  • David,

    Your site is such a delight, better than any magazine. I’ll certainly be baking this sticky toffee pudding and will serve it as an alternative to Christmas pudding. As for the iconic Lyle’s golden syrup tin, well I have one as a pen holder and it looks splendid.

    Cid

  • I actually have all the ingredients on hand to make this (what are the chances of that?), and I have a party to attend tonight where I need to bring something for the dessert table. Perfect ;-)

  • I am so glad to see a recipe with dates as an ingredient. It is such an under used fruit. It adds so much flavor and moist sticky texture to baked goods. I just love them. There is even a mouthwatering date milk shake that’s famous in So.Cal. Thank you for this.

    I’ve looked but haven’t found the Lyle’s golden syrup in the south bay. I did find a golden syrup from Steen’s that is a blend of corn and cane syrups. I’ve used it and it appears to work fine in recipes calling for golden syrup. It has only a little more flavor than light corn syrup to me. Would that be an acceptable substitution or do you think it would be too bland? Could I go halvsies with it and cane syrup?

  • Hi Susan: You should be able to find Lyle’s Golden Syrup at Draeger’s. But honestly, using mild or full-flavor molasses, which is close to the treacle I used on pudding #2, will yield equally excellent results.

    Although I must say, once you’ve tasted golden syrup, it’s something you might want to keep a can in stock for an occasional dip into.

    Cid: Thanks for the kind words. Glad you like the site~Happy holidays! : )

  • This may be sacreligious, but could you leave the dates out? I have everything else and I’m not crazy about fruit in my cake anyway. I haven’t made a cake-type pudding before, so I’m not sure if that would affect the structure Other than that, this sounds like everything warm and oozy and delicious that I want from a dessert!

    Also, I’m not sure if they’re common in the Bay area, but World Market carries Lyle’s syrup.

  • Hmm, it’s strange to see a version of this where the dates are left in pieces. The whole point of the STP is that the dates are puréed and form part of the batter; that’s what makes is so infinitely superior to a regular British sponge-style pudding. Otherwise it’s just a toffee pudding with bits of dates in it, isn’t it? Which I’m sure is lovely, but it’s not a sticky toffee pudding. Lots of people, if they’ve not made it or seen a recipe, aren’t even aware that there are dates in the thing, because there are no bits of dates in it – they just lend their sticky dark sweetness to the overall flavour but their presence isn’t immediately obvious.

    So Amy, if you don’t like dried fruits in your dessert, then try a regular version of this recipe and you won’t even know the dates are there!

  • Hi Claire: Although I’m not British, or a Sticky Toffee Pudding expert (although I’ve made, and eaten, enough this week to imagine that I qualify), I was curious and poked around the web (Delia, Nigella, Cooks Illustrated, Epicurious, etc…), and I didn’t see a version with puréed dates, although I’d imagine that would be a great way to incorporate them and make the cake more flavorful.

    I wonder what the grande dames of British cookery, like Elizabeth David and Jane Grigson do in theirs? I don’t have any of their books in my little apartment, but I’m curious. Interestingly, I’m spending the day with the food experts from Marks & Spencer this week, and I’m going to ask them, too. Thanks for the info!

  • I love Mani’s recipe, too. I first had sticky toffee pudding in Britain, where it was steamed; Mani’s version has the advantage of being baked, which is easier when you don’t have a lockable pudding mold.

  • Your timing is absolutely impeccable! My family unanimously chose sticky toffee pudding as our Christmas Dinner dessert. I was just going to dig out my old dog eared copy of a sticky toffee pudding recipe from Chatelaine Magazine and you’ve posted one that sounds, more or less, about the same. I shall merely press print! Thanks!

  • BTW, I should tell you that I am also a huge golden syrup fan and completely agree that it is one of the best ingredients ever. In fact, I use it in my butter tarts. Yum!

    http://danamccauley.wordpress.com/2008/11/17/worth-replacing-golden-syrup/

  • David, I love love love your site!
    I am just wondering what do you do with all your baked goods? Do you eat them all yourself? I love to bake but my husband doesn’t like sweets and so I tend to give them away as I would weigh 400 lbs if I ate everything I made. If I had really been using my noggin, I would have considered my husbands food preferences as a measure as to whether we should have gotten married. I love to explore new things and try new things. He would eat meatloaf and casseroles the rest of his life.
    Heather

  • Thanks, Claire! I went out and bought the dates and will give this a try for Christmas Eve. I hadn’t had a date in a long time, and was surprised to find how toffee-like they taste to start with. I don’t think it will be nearly as out-of-place as I thought they might be.

  • David,
    I looked in my Elizabeth David books for sticky toffee pudding, but it’s not in the ones I have. I did find a blog with sticky toffee pudding ice cream, which seems worth mentioning to you. It uses Marks & Spencer puddings mashed up for the recipe.

  • All I need is the title. I will keep looking at the title all day and I will smile each time (and maybe drool a little from the corners, but hopefully no one will notice). No need to actually bake this way.

  • wow, the picture “making tofee” is almost food porn :)

    huh… wait, I don’t know why I say this.

    thinking about it, It’s totally not… almost :D

  • Hello,

    You are fantastic!, and your recipes too.

    I form Chile, in South America, and i saw you for NatGeo.

    The photos of your food are incredible.
    Bye, and lucky.

    PS: Sorry for my english , it’s very bad.

  • Thank you so much, David! This is going on my Solstice table tomorrow evening!

    You rock the sock hop!!!!

    XOXOXOX,

    ~ Paula

  • the guilty pleasure I add to my sticky toffee pudding (as if it needed more) is to soak the dates in warm cognac. and then I add some more cognac into the toffee sauce…yum.

  • Looks so delicious! Mouthwatering photos!

  • The pudding looks delicious! And I totally agree with spending the extra for the extra flavor. Even if no one else can tell the difference between regular and natural, I think knowing how much you spent on something can convince you it tastes that much more incredible.

  • Hi David,
    Sticky toffee pudding IS the bees knees!! I have been using a recipe from a little restaurant in the Lake District called ‘The Moon’ for about 25 years now and it has never failed me, everyone who has had it is instantly hooked and once you taste it you know why. I am surprised there is no butter in the toffee part of the recipe you posted, but I do REALLY like the idea of Golden Syrup in there plus the addition of candied ginger sounds sublime…I shall try your recipe and compare it to my trusty stand by…thanks as ever!!
    PS I also have not seen a recipe for STP where the dates are pureed.

  • this looks delicious! ive been wanting to make STP ever since i first tasted one a few years ago; and this recipe looks amazing (and coming with your recommendations ;) )…

  • The pictures look great!

    Sometimes it’s just worth it to buy better ingredients.

  • Looks super tasty.
    It calls for “1 cup (250ml) tablespoons water” – is ‘tablespoons’ supposed to say something else? maybe something about the temperature? or is there supposed to be a number there? (I cup 2 tablespoons….)?

    Yes, it’s 1 cup (250ml) of water. His recipe called for an additional amount of water, but I modified it and had good results. Enjoy! -dl

  • Hey David,

    I had a look on the net and did find other recipes with dates unpuréed, others which call for them to be simmered until they break down, and others which call for puréeing. Anyway, I’m sure they’re all good. How could they not be? But I recommend trying the purée kind, it really takes the sponge to another level AND is good for people who don’t like dried fruit. I hate dates, but I could eat sticky toffee pudding until it comes out of my nostrils.

  • In Australian versions – often labeled sticky date pudding rather than sticky toffee pudding – the chopped dates are soaked in boiling water with baking soda (aka bicarbonate of soda) so they dissolve into a lumpy puree. See for instance Australian food writer Jill Dupleix’s version in The Times: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/food_and_drink/recipes/article510505.ece

  • Hello David – my husband always says he’ll crawl across broken glass for a feed of my Sticky Date Pudding, but I’ve yet to see him live up to that big statement! Being an Aussie like Jean, I do the boiling water & bicarb.soda thing too, but before that I soak the chopped dates in 1/2 cup of freshly squeezed orange juice with a splash of Cointreau & reduce the amount of water accordingly. This seems to really plump up the dates & infuse them gently with a hint of citrus. Warm Christmas greetings to you from the sunny Adelaide Hills.
    Millie ^_^

  • Jean & Claire: Ok, now all I can think of is the date issue (puréed vs pieces.) I haven’t slept in days! ; )

    Adding baking soda softens the dates, and the first batch I made, I actually added the baking soda but had to let them sit overnight since something came up. So when I made the cake (er…pudding) the next day, I noticed the dates were very, very gooshy. I’ve also noticed some recipes advise using Medjool dates, which are more expensive, but more unctuous.

    I usually think if you’re going to chop something like that up and smother it with toffee, you didn’t need to use the most exquisite dates in the world. But perhaps letting the dates stand overnight, then mashing them with a fork or something is a good idea. I’m going to try it next time I make this.

  • I am drooling on my computer right now. Looks delicious!

  • Everything about this post is so dreamy! The pictures, the writing, the sweaty athletes …… great post all around !

  • Thank you for this recipe! Five years ago I visited England and had my first (and only) taste of sticky toffee pudding at the restaurant in the Tate Modern, looking over the Millenium Bridge. I’ve wanted to make this for so long, and since I trust your choice of recipes implicitly, this will be the one I use. What a wonderful recipe and wonderful memories! P.S. I made your chocolate-covered caramelized matzohs for my co-workers, and they were a HUGE hit. Thanks again!

  • Who is doing your photography? They look amazing. I’m a photographer my self. Could you kindly share some setups you do to picture your food?

    Thanks
    Charles
    http://pampanguenacafe.wordpress.com

  • Melinda: Yes, not only did this post revive my interest in Sticky Toffee Pudding, but it brought back some other, rather enjoyable, memories.

    Charles: Glad you like the photos. You can check out the post My Food Photography Gear for tips and some behind-the-scenes images.

  • I tried this out on my family tonight, and it was a huge hit! This is definitely my favorite new holiday recipe of the year. I thought I might share a small word of warning, though, for anyone following the bake-ahead method (with the toffee sauce on top). The toffee boiled over and made a big sticky, smoky mess on the bottom of the oven. It was totally worth it, but I definitely recommend a cooler oven or a closer eye!

  • I wasn’t going to make dessert (i do the savory, my MIL brings the sweets) for Christmas, but I saw this and had to try it. It was the best dessert I’ve had in ages, many raves.
    heh. trumped my MIL’s contributions. the little devil on my shoulder did a little happy dance! i’m terrible.

  • Hi David,

    The recipe looks fabulous and just what I need for New Year’s. I was wondering if I can use honey in place of Golden Syrup since Golden Syrup was originally made as a honey substitute?

  • I have always loved sticky toffee pudding but never tried making it myself until I saw this recipe. I made a double batch for Christmas Dinner…and WHAT A HIT. Everyone had seconds and my mom demanded that I leave all the leftovers at her place. This will surely become a regular dessert for us. Thanks for the great post and recipe!

    I chopped up the dates rather finely and soaked them for about an hour. By the time the pudding was baked, the dates had all but disintegrated – you couldn’t even tell they were there.

  • You are EVIL!!! I made this for New Years and followed the recipe exactly. But after I got the sauce ready I didn’t care for the strong molasses flavor in the sauce, I will have to try it again with “Golden Syrup” (I wonder if I can find it here in Berkeley somewhere?). So at the last second I cooked the cake with out the sauce and used the cooks illustrated sauce on top when it came out of the oven. We were fighting over who got to lick out the pan! Thanks for a GREAT recipe. I can totally see how you made it twice in on week! It has barely been a week and I want to invite some friends over so don’t eat the entire thing myself! :)

  • The first time I discovered STP in Scotland, I thought I died and went to heaven. Had it at several places over there and it is true that some have too much molasses taste. I believe it is tradition to pour the boiling water over the dates and let them sit for at least one hour. I have researched and this recipe seems true to what I am looking for. I love the idea of the candied ginger…. Mmmmm.

    Will try it out next weekend, absolutely!

  • Hi GypsyAnna: I think a lot depends on the dates. Many of the dates now available are “fresh”, and much softer than some of the tough dates, pre-packaged I remember my mother baking with. One can certainly let the dates soften in the boiling water, but the addition of the baking soda helps break them down pretty quickly. I think one can do either: let them soak and soften for a while, or add them sooner, if they want little date nubbins in their cake.

    And as the recipe mentions, feel free to use golden syrup in lieu of molasses, but I found the taste rather faint and using a mild molasses is likely your best bet if you’re not all that keen on the flavor of the stuff.

  • Oh I love this recipe, thank you so much for posting it. The second I saw it I knew I had to make it and did so within a couple of days. It was perfect.

    I’ve just put in another batch in the oven right now, this being the second time this week. There is something about this cake that demands you make it more than just once, eh? Did you attempt this with pureed dates? I quite like the fact that I don’t have to cook the dates for this and leaving it for an hour or two really does soften the dates enough to mash them.

    The only thing I did a bit different was I added 1/4 tsp crushed cardamom seeds to the dates while the water was still hot. It adds a very subtle flavour that no one can quite place and is fabulous—and I’m not even that great of a fan of cardamom. I hope you try it next time you decide to make STP. You might thank me the same way I’m thanking you for this. :O)

  • Hey David,
    Just tried this recipe as a birthday cake for a friend. And it was a hit! Thank you so much. Everything on your site looks absolutely delicious.
    But… the only issue I had with the STP was the toffee sauce was thinner and lighter than your pictures. I used demerara sugar. Should I have heated it longer than 5 minutes? Any suggestions?
    Thanks!

  • Because these are natural sugars, many of them aren’t standardized. As you mentioned, the sugar you’re using might need to be cooked a bit longer, so it’s the desired consistency as shown in the picture.

  • My northern Irish husband swears this has to be eaten with both ice cream and custard… Thanks for the recipe, will make it tonight

  • when it says heat the butter and sugar I think you mean beat?

    Oops! Thanks : ) -dl

  • Hi, David.

    I realize it’s been a while since you posted this, but do you recall whether you thought this cake was improved by using the Baker’s Edge pan?

    Thanks!

  • Second time making this! This time I let the toffee cook longer and it came out exactly like your pictures!
    Thank you thank you for your recipes and blog!!!

  • Hi, first time coming to your blog, and I realize it’s been a while since you made this recipe but I was wondering if I was to make it with the toffee sauce, and then the pudding doesn’t get finished, could I freeze it and then re-warm it the next day? Does that affect the cake at all?

    Thanks!

  • What happens to the sauce in souffle dish in the freezer? is that souffle dish supposed to be the prepared 8.5″ baking dish? Upon which the pudding batter goes? Because I baked the cake as directed and poured the extra sauce in the souffle which is still sitting in the freezer. Why are there two different names for the same dish?

    • The dish is baked in a soufflé mold or soufflé ‘dish’. The nomenclature is interchangable, and the original creator and author of the recipe used several terms to describe the same baking vessel in his book. I modified the recipe so that it’s now all standardized; the batter is indeed baked in the soufflé dish (mold) that has sauce in it, that is in the freezer.

  • The perfect topping for sticky toffee pudding is clotted cream (or Devonshire cream). The recipe has one ingredient,but takes 16 hours, only 3 minutes of whcih is active preparation time. Pour heavy cream into a saucepan. It must not be ultrapasteurized. The amount depends on how much clotted cream you want. The result wil be somewhat less than half the amount you start out with. Bake in a 180 degree oven uncovered for 8 hours. Then place in refrigerator for 8 hours. Skim the clotted cream off the top. The remainder is usable for baking. So delicious, rich, yet tart.

    Phyllis aka sweetpaprika.wordpress.com

  • Hi Phyllis: That sounds lovely! I wonder if people have slow cookers, it seems like a good recipe to try if the machine has temperature control..thanks for the clotted cream recipe.

  • I see your sticky toffee pudding and raise you another one..

    Sticky Toffee Pudding (serves 12)

    Compliments of Chef Deb at http://www.thefridgewhisperer.com

    Preheat oven to 350F degrees.
    Coat a 9×13 glass baking dish with vegetable spray and set aside

    1 pound (16 ounces) pitted dates
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    2 ⅓ cups hot water
    6 tablespoons butter
    1 cup granulated sugar
    1 large egg
    1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    2 cups all-purpose flour
    1 teaspoon baking powder
    ½ cup butter
    ½ cup brown sugar, firmly packed
    1 cup heavy (35%) cream

    • Place pitted dates, baking soda and hot water into a mixing bowl and let stand for 20 minutes.
    • Puree date mixture in a food processor or with a hand emersion blender until smooth. Set aside.
    • In a separate bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy and then eat in egg and vanilla.
    • Sift together flour and baking powder and then stir into butter-sugar mixture until dry ingredients are incorporated. Stir in date mixture.
    • Pour batter into prepared baking dish and bake for 20-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in centre of cake comes out clean.
    • Meanwhile, in a heavy bottom saucepan set over medium heat, melt butter and sugar together.
    • Stir in cream and bring mixture to a boil.
    • Boil glaze for 1 minute, then remove from heat and set aside to slightly cool.
    • Spoon hot glaze mixture evenly over the pudding as soon as it comes out of the oven.
    • Let glazed sticky toffee pudding rest 15 minutes before serving.

  • My souffle dish is white porcelain, do you think it will shatter going from freezer to hot oven? Thanks.

  • Generally speaking, by the time you get the batter into the dish, the dish should no longer be ice-cold. But if you’re concerned, to be on the safe side, you can let the dish come to room temperature before putting it in the oven.

  • David, I made this last night and it was sublime. The sticky toffee pudding of my dreams. Even though I’m a devoted ginger lover, I left it out because I wanted to taste pure toffeeness. I didn’t miss it at all but I will try it with the ginger in eventually. Thank you!