*********************************************************************I've tried several sticky date pudding recipes in the past, and while none of them were too bad (after all, it is not difficult to like anything served with toffee sauce), they were not particularly memorable either. Some may consider what I am about to say next rather sacrilegious, but to be very honest, I don't like the 'pudding' texture of sticky date pudding. What some recipes promise to be "moist" have often turned out for me to be too cloyingly sweet, gummy, sticky and dense. My memories of most sticky date puddings are that they are sweet in a very one-dimensional, toothache-causing kind of way.
I like this recipe by Rachel Allen very much, because it manages to be very moist without being gummy or overly sticky. This more open crumb texture means that the cake still has room to soak up the generous lashings of toffee sauce that you will inevitably be pouring over it. But the best part of this recipe is the addition of black tea, which has a wonderful way of balancing out its sweetness and adding some complexity to its flavour.
I have adapted the recipe very simply by using Earl Grey tea, which complements the naturally-honeyed Medjool dates beautifully with its bergamot notes. And to bring even more depth of flavour to the sticky date pudding, I salted the toffee sauce, which makes a most amazing difference. From simple to extraordinary. More toffee sauce, anyone?
Earl Grey Sticky Date Pudding with Toffee Sauce
very slightly adapted from a recipe by Rachel Allen
Ingredients 225g (8oz) Medjool dates (stoned weight), chopped
250ml (9fl oz) earl grey tea (not too strong)
100g (3 ½ oz) unsalted butter, softened
175g (6oz) brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon powder
1/4 tsp nutmeg powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
225g (8oz) self-raising flour
¾ tsp bicarbonate of soda
110g (4oz) butter
250g (9oz) soft light brown sugar (or half brown and half caster sugar)
275g (10oz) golden syrup
225ml (8fl oz) double cream
½ tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp fleur de sel/salt
- Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F), Gas mark 4. Butter and flour the sides of a 20cm (8in) diameter spring-form/loose-bottomed tin, or a 20 x 20cm (8 x 8in) square cake tin and line the base with greaseproof paper.
- Place the chopped dates and tea in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Cook for a few minutes to soften the dates, then remove from the heat and set aside.
- Beat the butter in a large bowl or an electric food mixer until soft. Add the sugar and beat until the mixture is pale and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then beat in the spices and vanilla extract. Fold in the date mixture. Sift in the flour and bicarbonate of soda and fold in gently until mixed.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for about 45 minutes or until the top is just firm to the touch and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
- Allow to stand in the tin for about 5 minutes before removing and transferring to a serving plate. While the cake is cooking, make the toffee sauce.
- To serve, cut into slices (or squares if it is in a square tin) and serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream and a very generous drizzle of warm toffee sauce over the top!