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Rich and Sweet Sticky Toffee Pudding Recipe You Need To Try

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If you’re a lover of indulgently rich and sweet desserts, our sticky toffee pudding recipe gives you everything you need to make one of the classic British desserts, allowing you to more than satisfy your sweet cravings and wow your friends, family, or dinner guests.

Sticky toffee pudding served with ice cream.

Sticky Toffee Pudding Recipe

If you’re looking for all things ‘sticky toffee pudding’, you’ve very much come to the right place! Use the table of contents to get to the recipe or find answers to questions, or simply enjoy scrolling through and learning all about this wonderfully rich dessert.

Sticky toffee pudding served with a scoop of ice cream on top.

What is Sticky Toffee Pudding?

A classic choice on menus for decades, sticky toffee pudding is a traditional British dessert consisting of a rich, moist sponge cake base, infused with finely-chopped dates.

Finished with a hot toffee sauce, this indulgent cake is traditionally served in square slices, either with warm vanilla custard or a scoop of ice-cold vanilla ice cream, depending on preference. It is sometimes referred to as ‘sticky date pudding’.

Where was Sticky Toffee Pudding Invented?

Like many traditional desserts, the exact origin of Sticky Toffee Pudding isn’t entirely clear and is much-debated in culinary circles. However, it is largely believed the original recipe was created in the west midlands of England in the 1960s by a woman named Patricia Martin.

However, Sharrow Bay House in Cumbria is believed to be one of the first restaurants to actually list the dish on its menu during the 1970s, hence is regarded by many to be the birthplace of the dessert.

Other than that, references to the dessert’s origin are often vague and contradictory, with some stating the dish is actually Canadian, and others believing it is Australian. It is however generally referred to as a traditional English dessert.

With no evidence of the dessert’s existence earlier than the Second World War, this means the dish is seen as one of the more contemporary English desserts. It is also one of the very few traditional English desserts to not use lard in the recipe.

What Does Sticky Toffee Pudding Taste Like?

You can in essence split sticky toffee pudding into two components: the sponge and the sauce. The sponge is traditionally very rich and slightly spiced in its taste, which balances the super sweet and sticky toffee sauce.

Pairing a slice with either hot vanilla custard or a cold scoop of vanilla ice cream is a great way to enjoy this dessert without each mouthful being too rich and sweet if you prefer your desserts not to be overly sweet.

While sticky toffee pudding shares similarities with traditional English Christmas pudding, their tastes are very different.

Is Figgy Pudding the Same as Sticky Toffee Pudding?

While both share similarities, such as the use of dates, they are two very different dishes.

Figgy pudding is a variation of the traditional English Christmas cake, consisting mainly of figs, rum, dried fruits like raisins and glacier cherries, clarified honey, and nuts. Figgy pudding is sharper, and a little more bitter than sticky toffee pudding.

The origins of figgy pudding date back as far as Medieval times, meaning it is considerably older than sticky toffee pudding.

Recipe Ingredients

Let’s dive into making this rich and delicious dessert. You will prepare this dish in two parts; the sponge and the toffee sauce.

For the sponge, you will need the following:

  • Finely Chopped Dates (pre-pitted is advisable and will save you a task!), 200 grams (about 7 oz)
  • Hot Water, 175 ml (¾ cup)
  • Bicarbonate of Soda/Baking Soda, 1 teaspoon
  • Unsalted butter, 60 grams for the sponge (about half a U.S stick of butter) and 10 grams just for the pan
  • Dark Muscovado Sugar/Dark Brown Sugar, 80 grams (about 2.8 oz or ⅓ cup and 1 ¼ tbsp)
  • Treacle*, 1 tbsp
  • Eggs, 2 medium
  • Plain White Flour/All-Purpose Flour, 150 grams (about 1 cup)

For the toffee sauce, you will need the following:

  • Dark Muscovado Sugar/Dark Brown Sugar, 200 grams (about 1 cup)
  • Unsalted Butter, 120 grams (about one U.S. stick of butter)
  • Double Cream or Heavy Cream, 240 ml (about 1 cup)
  • Treacle*, 2 tbsp

*What is treacle?

Black treacle is readily available in supermarkets in the UK. You can find it on Amazon in the United States or in some grocery stores. You can also use golden syrup or corn syrup instead.

Step-by-Step Instructions

For this recipe, you will need the following utensils and equipment:

  • Baking tin
  • Greaseproof paper
  • Mixing bowls
  • Saucepan
  • Whisk or hand mixer
  • Oven

Step 1 – Preheat your oven to 180°C (or 360°F if in the U.S). While you’re waiting for it to heat, butter your baking tin and line the base with your greaseproof paper. As its name suggests, Sticky Toffee Pudding is notorious for sticking to cooking apparatus, so this part is important!

Step 2 – Put your dates in a bowl and cover them with the hot water and bicarbonate of soda, and leave to soak. Soak them until the water is cool and your dates have softened.

Step 3 – In one of your other mixing bowls, with a whisk or hand mixer, cream your butter and sugar together until the paste is pale and creamy.

Add in your eggs one at a time and mix well after each addition. Then add the date mixture and mix well again. Finally, fold in your flour.

Step 4 – Pour your mixture into the tin and bake for 30-35 minutes (or until springy to the touch).

Always “stick” the middle with a knife or toothpick. Once it comes out clean, your sponge is perfectly baked and ready for the toffee sauce.

Step 5 – To make the sauce, use a large and heavy-bottomed pan (to prevent burning or scorch marks), add the butter, melt it for a couple of minutes and add the sugar, and heat over a medium temperature, stirring occasionally until the sugar has fully dissolved. Add the black treacle.

Do not leave your sauce unattended during any of the cooking process.

Step 6 – Continue to boil the sugar until it becomes dark brown (toffee-colored, funnily enough!).

Turn off the heat immediately and move the pan to a cooler place. Continue to stir for thirty seconds to a minute to prevent burning or sticking to the pan base. Toffee sauce is notoriously temperamental to make, so don’t be disheartened if you don’t nail it first time and it takes several tries.

Step 7 – Slowly pour in your cream, stirring continuously, then whisk in the treacle. Gently heating your cream prior to pouring will lessen the chance of crystallization.

Step 8 – Let the toffee sit for ten minutes (or until cooled) then gradually add in the softened cubed butter and stir until it has dissolved.

Step 9 – Finally, pour your toffee sauce over the sponge, let it sit, and your sticky toffee pudding is ready to serve.

As you can see below, the combination of the rich, slightly spiced sponge with the thick, sticky toffee sauce is truly a match made in heaven.

You’ll have seen at the start of the article, we opted to serve a slice with a scoop of delicious vanilla ice cream. Cornish clotted cream can be a nice substitute if custard or ice cream don’t do it for you

However you serve it, there’s no denying the mouthwatering indulgence of this beloved British dish.

Recipe Tips & Variations

Want to adjust or enhance your sticky toffee pudding to different tastes and preferences? Here are some variations you can try.

Taste Alterations:

  • To add a little crunch to your sponge, consider incorporating chopped nuts. Unsalted macadamia nuts, for example, are a good choice.
  • Consider garnishing a slice when serving with salted caramel ice cream for a delicious salty infusion.
  • You can substitute bicarb and plain flour for self-raising flour.

Dairy-Free

  • You can make this pudding dairy-free by substituting in plant-based butter and cream for both the sponge and the sauce.

Vegan

  • To make a vegan variation, also replace the eggs with a vegan powdered egg replacement.

Sticky Toffee Pudding FAQs

Can you freeze it?

The sticky toffee pudding sponge can be frozen, but you may have issues with the toffee sauce, even though it can technically be frozen. The sauce does not tend to freeze well, and will likely ‘split’ once defrosted.

Can you make it in advance?

You can, and it can be both refrigerated and frozen (as mentioned above). It is best to keep both the sauce and sponge separate if making it in advance, then bring them together before serving.

With the sauce, your biggest challenge will be it splitting if defrosting from frozen or warming it up in the microwave. With the sponge, you risk drying it out if you microwave it for too long.

Below, we have recommendations for both the sauce and the sponge if you aren’t serving the dish fresh.

Can you buy pre-made sticky toffee pudding?

You can, and you will find it in the dessert aisles of many British supermarkets. However, store-bought puddings will often contain preservatives to help them last longer, which can also affect the taste. For the freshest and most flavorsome dish, you should definitely make it yourself.

Can you make sticky toffee pudding without dates?

You can indeed make dateless sticky toffee pudding.

Does it need to be refrigerated?

It does. Because of the fresh ingredients used, storing this dessert at room temperature will cause decomposition.

If you decide to freeze your pudding, make sure it is well-wrapped in freezer-proof material to prevent freezer burn or the chance of it drying out upon thawing.

Can you reheat sticky toffee pudding?

For the best results, you can reheat the sponge in the microwave. Thirty seconds per slice on medium heat should be enough.

If you reheat the sauce in the microwave, however, it will most likely split. So it’s better to gently warm the sauce up in a pan, then pour it over the sponge once it has finished in the microwave.

Is sticky toffee pudding easy to make?

Making the sponge is very similar to making a standard cake base; meaning sticky toffee pudding is one of the more simple desserts you can make at home.

Making the sauce from scratch, however, can be trickier. If you feel like the sauce may be a bridge too far for you, you can always find ready-made toffee sauces at your local grocery store to use instead.

Can you eat it cold?

You can eat sticky toffee pudding cold, but it simply won’t taste as nice. This is a dish that is supposed to be enjoyed hot.

Is sticky toffee pudding seasonal?

While not strictly seasonal, sticky toffee pudding being a warm dessert does make it a great choice during the colder months of the year, especially winter. It can also be an excellent substitute for Christmas pudding over the festive period.

Is sticky toffee pudding healthy?

While it does contain fruit and a slice isn’t as high in saturated fat and calories as other desserts, sticky toffee pudding still contains butter and cream, and has a high sugar content. Therefore, it should be enjoyed as a treat, and not a regular part of your diet.

Sticky Toffee Pudding Recipe Card

Sticky Toffee Pudding Recipe

Sticky Toffee Pudding Recipe
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Additional Time 10 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes

Ingredients

Sponge Ingredients

  • Finely Chopped Dates (pre-pitted is advisable and will save you a task!), 200 grams (about 7 oz)
  • Hot Water, 175 ml (¾ cup)
  • Bicarbonate of Soda/Baking Soda, 1 teaspoon
  • Unsalted butter, 60 grams for the sponge (about half a U.S stick of butter) and 10 grams just for the pan
  • Dark Muscovado Sugar/Dark Brown Sugar, 80 grams (about 2.8 oz or ⅓ cup and 1 ¼ tbsp)
  • Treacle, 1 tbsp
  • Eggs, 2 medium
  • Plain White Flour/All-Purpose Flour, 150 grams (about 1 cup)

Toffee Sauce Ingredients

  • Dark Muscovado Sugar/Dark Brown Sugar, 200 grams (about 1 cup)
  • Unsalted Butter, 120 grams (about one U.S. stick of butter)
  • Double Cream or Heavy Cream, 240 ml (about 1 cup)
  • Treacle, 2 tbsp

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 180°C (or 360°F if in the U.S). While you’re waiting for it to heat, butter your baking tin and line the base with your greaseproof paper. As its name suggests, Sticky Toffee Pudding is notorious for sticking to cooking apparatus, so this part is important!
  2. Put your dates in a bowl and cover them with the hot water and bicarbonate of soda, and leave to soak. Soak them until the water is cool and your dates have softened.
  3. In one of your other mixing bowls, with a hand mixer, cream your butter and sugar together until the paste is pale and creamy.
  4. Add in your eggs one at a time and mix well after each addition. Then add the date mixture and mix well again. Finally, fold in your flour.
  5. Pour your mixture into the tin and bake for 30-35 minutes (or until springy to the touch). Always “stick” the middle with a knife or toothpick. Once it comes out clean, your sponge is perfectly baked and ready for the toffee sauce.
  6. To make the sauce, use a large and heavy-bottomed pan (to prevent burning or scorch marks), add the butter, melt it for a couple of minutes and add the sugar, and heat over a medium temperature, stirring occasionally until the sugar has fully dissolved. Add the black treacle. Do not leave your sauce unattended during the cooking process.
  7. Continue to boil the sugar until it becomes dark brown (toffee-colored, funnily enough!).
  8. Turn off the heat immediately and move the pan to a cooler place. Continue to stir for thirty seconds to a minute to prevent burning or sticking to the pan base. Toffee sauce is notoriously temperamental to make, so don’t be disheartened if you don’t nail it the first time and it takes several tries.
  9. Finally, pour your toffee sauce over the sponge, let it sit, and your sticky toffee pudding is ready to serve.

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    close up of sticky toffee pudding with a scoop of ice cream

    Author: Doina is a passionate content creator and home cook, who has traveled extensively and loves to use foods she tries while traveling to inspire her own cooking at home.

    Contributor: Clarice Taylor is a copywriter and a former pastry chef based in the UK, who has a deep passion for British cuisine and recipes.

    Author

    • Hey there! We are Dale and Doina, the founders of Nomad Paradise. We traveled full-time for over three years, and while we now have a home base in the U.K., continue to take trips abroad to visit new places and try new cuisines and foods. Our food guides are curated with the guidance of local foodies, and their contribution is indicated under each article. We also cook the foods we try abroad, and you can discover how to make them in our 'recipes from around the world' category.

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