An unbelievably easy, actually, ridiculously easy sticky toffee pudding recipe that makes its own sauce! It sounds crazy, but this recipe creates a light, delicious cake with its own buttery, rich toffee sauce right underneath!
Anytime Scott and I are out for dinner and there’s a dessert option for Sticky Toffee Pudding, we never have to think twice. And after enjoying sticky toffee pudding all over “the mother country”, during the seven years our daughter lived in England, we’ve definitely had our share of this wonderful dessert. Believe it or not, this Ridiculously Easy Sticky Toffee Pudding recipe rates up there with some of the best we’ve ever had!
What is Sticky Toffee Pudding?
Sticky Toffee Pudding is a beloved British dessert. Just to make things clear, a pudding in England is quite different than the creamy, custard-like dessert that we call pudding here in American. In the United Kingdom, “pudding” has a much broader definition and is generally the word that’s used the way “dessert” is in America.
Sticky toffee pudding is a very moist cake that’s sweetened primarily with dates. It’s covered in a toffee sauce and often served with vanilla custard or vanilla ice cream.
But Sticky Toffee Pudding isn’t just an”English” thing”! When Scott and I were in Ireland, this past summer, we had this iconic British dessert at restaurants all over the Emerald Isle. One of our favorites was in Belfast. We loved the light cake soaked in a fabulous buttery toffee sauce. When we tasted this Ridiculously Easy Sticky Toffee Pudding, we both agreed that it was similar to that delicious Belfast version!
An adaptation of an adaptation of an adaptation!
I first saw this recipe over on Food 52. They had adapted it from an ingenious recipe in Nigella Bites, a cookbook by Nigella Lawson. The instructions for making this cake are quite unorthodox, and I would have completely passed it up had I not noticed all the rave reviews on Nigella’s website. After reading the reviews, I knew I’d have to give it a try!
You would have probably laughed had you been a mouse in my kitchen the first time I made this Easy Sticky Toffee Pudding. After reading the instructions, “make the simple cake batter, cover it brown sugar and dots of butter, then pour boiling water over the top”, I was pretty skeptical. Really?
And as I carried the pan of cake batter, covered with hot water to the oven, I wasn’t very hopeful about the upcoming results. But when I took a peek, 25 minutes later, I let out a little happy squeal! It looked wonderful, with a light golden, crinkly, crackly top and no water in sight!. I let it bake a little longer and then pulled out a beautiful looking dessert.
And when I spooned up a helping for Scott and me to sample, sure enough, there was an amazing, deeply caramel-hued sauce underneath! But the first bite is what sold me on this crazy easy, sticky toffee pudding. Turns out the reviewers were right! The recipe produces a delicious, light, date-studded cake with the surprise toffee sauce underneath. It’s like magic!
Since that first incredulous trial, I’ve adapted the recipe a bit myself and have served it several times to rave reviews. It ‘s probably one of the easiest desserts I’ve ever made. Delicious + easy – in my book, that equals a big WIN-WIN!
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Café Tips for making this Easy Sticky Toffee Pudding
- To make things easier, I like to use dates that are already chopped for this recipe. You can purchase chopped dates at most groceries in the same section as the raisins, prunes, etc.
- Be sure to use a large enough dish for this recipe. You want a baking dish that can hold 6-8 cups. If you’re not sure how much your dish will hold, just use a measuring cup and fill the dish up with water to test it.
- When you spread the batter in the baking dish, it will seem like it’s not enough. Don’t worry, it will magically fill much of the pan once you add the toppings and it’s baked!
- It can be a little tricky to transfer this dessert to the oven due to the water on top of the cake batter. I found it helps to put the baking dish on a sheet pan, then transfer the sheet pan to the oven.
- You can bake this cake a few hours in advance of serving then return it to the oven (300˚F) for about 20 minutes to warm it up.
- This dessert is DELICIOUS served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
P.S. If you like this kind of recipe, we have a whole series called Ridiculously Easy Recipes. They’re all recipes that involve minimal effort and minimal hands-on time to put together, produce fabulous, super delicious results (results that “appear” to have taken lots of time, talent, prowess and/or hard work) and ones that take the stress out of entertaining and allow you more time to enjoy your guests. In other words, they make you look like a superstar without a ton of effort on your part!
If you enjoyed this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review! It’s so helpful to other readers to hear other’s results and ideas for variations.
- 4 tablespoons salted butter (1/2 stick or 2 ounces)
- ½ cup dark brown sugar
- 1 egg
- ½ cup half and half or whole milk
- 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup chopped dates
- 1 cup dark brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons cold salted butter cut into small pieces
- 1 ¾ cups boiling water
- Place the 4 tablespoons of butter in a microwave-safe, medium-size bowl and heat for 45-60 seconds on high power or until melted. Set aside to cool for 5 minutes. Preheat the oven to 375ºF and generously butter a baking dish that will hold 6-8 cups. Place the buttered pan on a sheet pan.
- In a medium-size bowl, whisk together the melted butter and brown sugar. Add the egg and vanilla extract and whisk until the egg is incorporated, then add the half and half (or milk) and stir until well-combined.
- Sprinkle the flour, baking powder, salt over the top and stir until smooth. Fold in the chopped dates. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and spread to an even layer. (It won’t look that full yet but have no fear, it will be perfect by the time it’s done!)
- Sprinkle the brown sugar over the top of the batter and dot with the small pieces of butter. Pour the boiling water over all of this (I know, sounds so strange!) and transfer the pan (with the sheet pan underneath) to the oven. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the top of the cake springs back when lightly touched.
- Serve warm. Scoop the cake and sauce (underneath the cake there will be a rich, sticky sauce) into dessert bowls. Serve with vanilla ice cream.
See Café Tips above in post for further instructions and detailed tips.
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