Calling all Great British Baking Show lovers! Why is it that there are so many desserts in the UK that look and sound so amazing, but they aren’t popular or common here in the US? Are us Americans just lazy and don’t want to put in the effort? Maybe it’s just tradition and we stick to what we know? Who knows… but when I heard the words “sticky toffee pudding” I was instantly interested in creating my own. Finding out that “pudding” is actually cake only peaked my interest more.
I’m so glad I decided to tackle this recipe- it only surpassed my expectations. When I started researching sticky toffee pudding, I learned that it’s made with dates (which I love and was totally happy about this discovery). I wanted to give it a flavor other than just caramel-y dates and toffee, though- so I added ginger into the mix… and the toffee sauce… and as a garnish… ginger just feels appropriate here, okay? I’m a fan.
If you don’t like ginger, you can definitely leave it out no problem but I would definitely recommend leaving it in. If you don’t like dates, however, you may not even notice they’re in there since they’re all mashed up with other amazing things. They’re – for lack of a better term – the glue that holds this dish together. So, give dates a chance! If you really can’t stand them though, or maybe you’re allergic, you could totally replace them with raisins, dried apricots, or another dried fruit. It would change the flavor of the dish and may overpower the star flavor notes but if that’s your jam, go for it.
This sweet and spicy treat is delicious served warm, and I imagine it would be amazing with some vanilla ice cream if you want to go full sweet tooth. After making this, you will probably wish you made it sooner. But now you can make it for special occasions (hello, Valentine’s!), potlucks, and be MVP of your family gatherings, so you’re welcome.
2 tablespoons crystalized ginger (optional, for garnish)
Preheat oven to 350 Fahrenheit. Thoroughly grease two loaf pans and coat with 2 tablespoons flour/knock out and discard excess flour, making sure you got butter and flour evenly into corners.
In a small bowl, toss dates and baking soda together. Once coated, pour 1 cup boiling water over the dates. Let dates soak about 10-15 minutes, or until dates are super soft. Smash dates with a fork to make a sort of thick paste.
While the dates soak, whisk together 2 cups flour, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl. Set aside.
In a large bowl, beat brown sugar, grated ginger, and butter until light and fluffy (about 3-5 minutes with an electric or hand mixer). Add in the applesauce 1/3 cup at a time, beating to fully incorporate after each 1/3 cup.
Once applesauce has all been incorporated, mix in ½ of the flour mixture. Once fully mixed, add in ½ of the date mixture. Once that’s fully mixed in, add the second half of the flour mixture, then follow with the remaining date mixture. Once everything’s fully incorporated and smooth, pour batter into your prepared pan(s) and smooth the top out with the back of a spoon so it’s even.
Put cake into preheated oven and bake 35-50 minutes, or until cake top is firm and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.
Let cake cool for 10 minutes in pan, then turn out onto wire cooling rack and cool for an additional 20 minutes (cake will still be warm, just not hot).
While the cake cools for the 20 minutes, make the toffee sauce.
In a small saucepan, bring the brown sugar, half & half, butter, ground ginger, and salt to a boil over medium-low heat, stirring frequently.
Cook sauce, stirring frequently about 5 minutes, or until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and allow to slightly cool.
Poke holes with a toothpick all over the warm cake. Pour 1/3 of the toffee sauce into the pan(s) you baked the cake in, and carefully put the cake back into the pan. Poke holes with the toothpick all over the top of the cake and pour ½ of the remaining sauce onto the top of the cake. Allow cake to absorb sauce in the pan for 15 minutes.
Turn cake out onto a serving dish (it will be sticky, so use patience) and sprinkle with crystalized ginger. Serve cake warm with remaining toffee sauce. Enjoy!