This sticky toffee cake is sweetened mostly with dates, moist and fluffy with an easy and rich toffee sauce poured on top. It’s extra special and made easily in one pan!
What is sticky toffee cake?
Also known as sticky toffee pudding, this is actually one of my favorite desserts. It’s decadent and over the top, a classic British dessert consisting of a date infused cake with a hot toffee sauce poured on top.
Vanilla ice cream or whipped cream to round it off and you’ve got yourself a sensation. This is commonly served in restaurants because it’s such a wow dessert, but it’s so easy to make at home!
Why add dates to cake?
Date’s are nature’s candy with a taste that has more than a little resemblance to caramel or toffee, two of my favorite flavors. Even if you don’t like dates, I can’t see you not liking this dessert.
The dates are briefly soaked in hot water with some baking soda to break them down, and folded into the cake batter.
They basically melt down into a golden sweetness that just deepens the flavor of the cake sponge. You can keep them as chunky or as smooth as you like, depending on if you want bits of dates throughout.
What makes this cake so good?
It’s moist and fluffy at the same time. It’s sweet and complex with the flavor of dates. Stores very well too!
The best part is when the cake comes out of the oven and is poked all over and warm toffee sauce is poured on top to moisten the whole cake and infuse it with that beautiful toffee flavor.
It’s a dessert that manages to be homey and elegant at the same time and will leave you licking your fingers!
What goes into this sticky date cake?
I took a recipe of Nigella Lawson’s, that got rated very well and made it a couple times. The first time, I used molasses as a substitute for the black treacle she uses. It was dark and intense and delicious.
The second time, I used honey because I wanted this cake to consist of ingredients I always have in my pantry- I don’t always have molasses, and it can be hard to find in the Middle East.
The honey made this cake lighter and more fragrant. It was lovely! I will say use either interchangeably .
I also reduced the amount of butter and sugar in Nigella’s original toffee sauce slightly. It was still as decadent as ever, so I’m happy with that change.
I also added a pinch of cardamom which goes SO well with dates, but you can feel free to leave that out.
The sticky toffee pudding cake base:
Dates: are first softened with hot water and baking soda, which breaks down their more fibrous parts.
Eggs: Use room temperature so they incorporate more easily into the batter
Butter: Room temperature
Honey or Molasses
Dark Brown Sugar: I used this in place of the dark muscovado sugar Nigella uses, because it’s what I had on hand. It has a richer flavor and color than light brown sugar.
Flour, plenty of baking powder for fluffiness, and a hint of salt.
The sauce ingredients:
Plenty of Dark Brown Sugar
Honey or Molasses
Heavy cream ( whipping cream).
It’s a very easy sauce to make. The butter and sugar need to melt together and dissolve at which point the heavy cream is added. Once it boils, the sauce comes off the stove at which point it’ll thicken very nicely.
Store extra sauce in the fridge, and just microwave a few seconds to get it hot and loose again.
Serve with extra toffee sauce for those so incline , and something to cut the sweetness. This can be good quality vanilla ice cream, or whipped cream. Serve the cake warm, after the cake has had its 20 minute soaking time! Your guests will be enthralled.
Store any leftovers (yeah, what are those?) tightly covered with foil in the fridge. To eat, just warm up in the microwave , and also microwave any extra sauce for topping if desired.
The Best Sticky Toffee Pudding
For the cake:
- 200 g soft pitted dried dates, roughly chopped
- 200 ml boiling water
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 75 g unsalted butter
- 2 tbsp honey (or molasses)
- 50 g dark brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 150 g flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp cardamom optional
- 1/2 tsp salt
For the toffee sauce:
- 125 g unsalted butter
- 200 g dark brown sugar
- 1 tbsp honey or molasses
- 200 ml heavy whipping cream
- pinch sea salt flakes for sprinkling, optional
For the cake:
- Preheat the oven to 180 C (350 F). Lightly grease a 9×9 inch baking dish.
- Place dates in a bowl, and pour boiling water on top. Add baking soda and stir to combine. Let sit for 10 minutes.
- Cream the butter and honey together in a stand mixer until well combined. Add the brown sugar and mix until combined and no lumps remain. Add one egg and beat until well incorporated, then repeat with the second egg
- Reducing the speed of the stand mixer, add the flour, baking powder, salt, and cardamom if using. Stir until combined and a thick smooth batter forms. Add in the dates with any of their remaining water and fold in until just combined.
- Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth out the top with a spatula. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Make the sauce while cake is in the oven.
To make the toffee sauce:
- Combine the butter, honey and sugar in a saucepan over low heat, and stir gently until butter is melted and sugar has dissolved. Add the whipping cream, increase the heat to medium and bring sauce to a boil. Once it has started to bubble remove from the heat.
- As soon as the cake is out of the oven, poke it all over with a toothpick or skewer, creating small holes. Pour about 1/4 of the warm toffee sauce all over the cake surface until it has an even glaze across the top. Let cake stand 20-30 minutes to soak in the sauce, then sprinkle with sea salt if desired, and serve.
- Serve with the remaining toffee sauce on the side, and vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.
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