On Tuesday, I revealed what Barack Obama would be eating for his last supper before the big day. Many of you were impressed by the elegant-sounding menu — but in particular, you were dreaming of the dessert, a warm sticky toffee pudding with vanilla ice cream.
Our stars must be aligned: for my favorite uncle's birthday last weekend, I made this dream of a cake from a recipe in Sheila Lukins's stellar new book, Ten. In case you didn't know, sticky toffee pudding isn't actually a pudding. Rather, it's a traditional British dessert that's made with date-flavored sponge cake and drenched in a toffee sauce. With its moist cake and gooey, syrupy caramelized sauce, this dessert is bound to catch on in the United States. To make this simple cake for yourself,
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing the pan
8 ounces pitted dried dates, chopped
1 teaspoon baking soda
5 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 tablespoons baking powder
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1/2 cup heavy (whipping) cream
1 cup (packed) light or dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Vanilla ice cream or whipped cream, for serving
- Position a rack in the center of the oven, and preheat the oven to 350ºF. Butter the bottom and the sides of a 9-inch round cake pan. Set the pan aside.
- Place the chopped dates in a small saucepan, add 1 cup water, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 3 minutes. Stir in the baking soda (the mixture will bubble up slightly). Set the pan aside to cool.
- Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the vanilla and mix to combine.
- Add the flour and salt, and mix to combine. Stir in the dates, including any liquid, and then stir in the baking powder.
- Scrape the batter into the prepared cake pan, and bake until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Do not overbake or the cake will be dry.
- Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Then remove the cake from the pan, and place it on a plate.
- While the cake is cooking, prepare the sauce: Combine all the sauce ingredients in a small saucepan. Place the pan over medium-low heat and cook, stirring, until the butter has melted and the sauce is smooth, 2 to 3 minutes. Raise the heat slightly, and simmer until the sauce thickens slightly, 3 minutes. Let the sauce cool for about 5 minutes.
- Using a skewer, poke holes all over the surface of the cake. Pour the sauce over the cake while both are still warm.
- Serve the cake warm, with ice cream or whipped cream on top.
Note: This cake can be frozen and reheated. To freeze cake, cool it completely, cut into wedges, and freeze each well-wrapped wedge for up to 2 months. A slice can be thawed and reheated. Reheat in a 350ºF oven for 10 minutes.
- Desserts, Cake