This traditional English sticky toffee pudding has the texture of a sponge-like cake that is super moist and full of sweet dates. The cake batter is baked on top of toffee sauce, then even more toffee sauce is poured on top (that toffee drizzle is a holiday gift of its own!). Serve it with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream for a truly unforgettable dessert!
I was first introduced to this English (and Canadian) Christmas dessert about a decade ago when I stumbled upon a newspaper spread about holiday food and there was an article dedicated to different types of puddings (all of which I want to try), and the recipe for the sticky toffee pudding jumped right off the page at me.
As soon as I saw it included dates, I dashed off to the kitchen to give it a try (I LOVE dates!). And not surprisingly, I looooooved the sticky toffee pudding!
Pudding pans: How to choose and how to prepare
Some puddings are prepared in Bundt cake pans, while others are in a standard baking dish. In this one, I recommend an 8-½ inch porcelain soufflé dish (this has about a 2-quart capacity); its tall sides keep the pudding crunchy and rich. A similar-sized baking dish would also work, but a porcelain option is the best in terms of the way it conducts heat and produces a crusty exterior and super moist interior.
Grease the pan with a light layer of butter or non-stick cooking spray. Whatever you grease it with, be sure that you have kept the coating very light, so that the butter or oil does not soak into the pudding. Use a paper towel to blot up any excess.
How to make sticky toffee pudding step by step
Though traditional “puddings” are boiled or steamed, sticky toffee pudding has evolved and is now traditionally baked. I am a huge fan of this because the crisp edges and structure this cake gets from the oven are absolutely heavenly. I fell in love with how straightforward this recipe is, and how utterly delicious it is!
Preheat oven and grease your baking dish.
Bring the toffee sauce together by adding the butter, brown sugar, and molasses to a saucepan. Boil on medium and stir until sugar is melted. Lower to simmer until the sauce thickens and coats the spoon.
Pour half of the toffee mixture into the greased base of the baking dish. Place the dish in the freezer, and set the other half aside.
Begin making the pudding by heating the dates and water in a medium saucepan. Once water is boiling, remove it from the heat and stir in the baking soda. You want to set this aside but keep it on very low heat.
Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl.
In a standing mixer bowl, or in a large bowl (and using a hand mixer), you will beat the butter and granulated sugar until fluffy. Then, you will beat in the eggs and vanilla. NOTE: Here, you may see things looking a bit clumpy – that’s normal!
Add half of the flour mixture into the standing mixer bowl, followed by the date mixture. Next, add the other half of the flour mixture and mix. (You want to avoid overmixing here, so make sure you watch closely and turn the mixer off as soon as you see the ingredients totally blended.)
Remove the soufflé dish from the freezer and pour the pudding mixture in.
Bake the sticky toffee pudding for 50 minutes, or until a toothpick from the center comes out with moist crumbs attached.
Let the pudding cool fully before serving with the other half of the toffee sauce.
Variations and serving ideas
There are so many kinds of traditional puddings, you may find yourself inspired once you start making them! A sticky toffee pudding like this is a classic, but you can spice it up a bit pretty easily:
A pinch of clove or nutmeg can give it a gingerbread feel.
We call dates “nature’s candy” for a reason! They are quite sweet, so for those looking to cut that down, dried apricots are a great swap.
Dark cocoa powder could also be added for some bitter dark notes.
Whipped cream on its own is fabulous, but you can also fold the second half of the toffee mixtureinto whipped cream. Talk about luxurious!
Looking for smaller portions? Use smaller ramekins to make single-serving puddings. Your cook time will be closer to 30-40 minutes!
Making ahead and storage tips
Make-Ahead: Do not add half of the toffee to the pan, and instead bake the cake on its own. While it is still hot, poke holes in the cake and drizzle half of the toffee over. When it is cooled, cover the pudding with plastic wrap. Store the rest of the toffee in an air tight container in the refrigerator.
Storing: The pudding can be stored, covered, at room temperature for up to 2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Freezing: Separate the pudding into individual servings and wrap each serving tightly with plastic wrap and place in a freezer-safe resealable bag for up to 3 months.
To Reheat the Pudding: You can warm the sticky toffee pudding in the microwave, the oven, a toaster oven, or even the grill (wrapped in foil).
To Reheat the Toffee Sauce: Warm over low heat on the stove or in the microwave in 30-second bursts on 50% power. Be sure to stir frequently to keep the sauce from evaporating or burning.
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This traditional English sticky toffee pudding has the texture of a sponge-like cake that is super moist and full of sweet dates. The cake batter is baked on top of toffee sauce, then even more toffee sauce is poured on top. Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and butter an 8½-inch porcelain soufflé dish (or similar-sized baking dish).
Make the toffee sauce by bringing the cream, dark brown sugar, golden syrup (or molasses) and salt to a boil in a medium saucepan, stirring often to melt the sugar.
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.
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. Set aside, but keep it slightly warm.
In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
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.)
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.
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.
Remove the pudding from the oven, and let cool slightly before 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.