Oh, sticky toffee pudding, how I love thee. I remember when I ordered it for the first time many moons ago, and I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’m not really big into puddings for dessert, but I love anything with toffee. Really, the dessert could have been anything, so long as it had the word “toffee” in it, I’d order it. Well, as you can see (and you probably know) sticky toffee pudding is not really a pudding at all. It’s a very moist sponge cake, made with chopped dates, and covered in toffee/caramel sauce. A little sauce is added while it’s baking and then a whole lot (if you’re me) is added when it’s done baking.
I’ve loved this dessert ever since the first time I tried it. It may seem weird to love a cake with chopped dates so much, but leave any hesitations you have about that aside and make this. I promise you’ll love it.
I decided to make 1/4 of the recipe and bake it in 2 mini (4.5″ springform pans). One cake was the perfect size to split with my husband (and if you know my husband at all, you may be wondering how in the world I got him to split a dessert since he absolutely refuses to do so on a normal basis. I don’t know the answer to that question). This did make a LOT of caramel sauce and I’m positive you could reduce the recipe for that. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with having leftover caramel sauce to eat with your ice cream; in your hot chocolate; or in a moment of desperation, and when you have nothing else in your house, with pecans mixed in and by the spoonful. (Not that I know anything about that.)
Sticky Toffee Pudding with Caramel Sauce
For the caramel sauce:
4 cups heavy cream
2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
For the cake:
2.5 cups AP flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1.5 cups water
1.25 cups chopped pitted dates
2 tsp. baking soda
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 tsp. vanilla extract
To make the sauce:
Bring cream, brown sugar and butter to boil in heavy medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. Reduce heat and simmer sauce until reduced to 3.5 cups, stirring occasionally, about 6 minutes. Set aside.
To make the cake:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 12-cup Bundt pan (or other pan/s). Whisk flour and baking powder in medium bowl to blend. In a medium-sized heavy saucepan, combine the water, dates and baking soda; bring to a boil. Remove from heat and cool completely.
Use an electric mixer to beat the butter and sugar in large bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs 1 at a time and then mix in vanilla. Add half of flour mixture, then date mixture. Blend in remaining flour mixture. Pour batter into prepared pan.
Bake until cake rises and is golden on top, about 45 minutes. Pour 3/4 cup caramel sauce over cake; continue baking until tester inserted near center of cake comes out with no crumbs (only caramel sauce) attached, about 15 minutes. Cool in pan 10 minutes. Invert cake onto platter.
Cut cake into slices; drizzle caramel sauce over each slice.
Cake can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cool it completely and then wrap cake airtight and store at room temperature. Cover remaining caramel sauce and refrigerate. Rewarm sauce over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, before using.