Decadent sticky toffee cake with butterscotch sauce

Baking: You won’t be able to resist this dessert, especially when served with ice cream

Sticky, delicious, moreish. Photograph: Harry Weir

Sticky, delicious, moreish. Photograph: Harry Weir

 

 I am hoping that the promise of a decadent sticky-toffee pudding might dissuade would-be thieves from raiding the front door trick or treat bowl. A sticky toffee pudding offers a no-apologies dessert when it’s served with a creamy, nutty, caramel sauce. It is popularly served in pubs as individual puddings or as muffins. For a home party, I prefer the easy option and serve it as a cake.

When entertaining, a single cake can be portioned into as many large or small slices as required. Each slice partially smothered in the delicious sauce (or on the side depending on your guests’ preferences). The main point of difference between sticky-toffee puddings and other cake batters is that it is a distinctly wet batter, with the liquid used to soften the dates included.

The primary reason I choose soft brown sugar is that it is the same ingredient used to make the rich golden butterscotch sauce

The best sticky-toffee puddings have a rich, dark colour. Refined sugar such as caster sugar will work in the recipe but less refined sugars will give a darker tone. Light and dark unrefined muscovado sugar have a higher moisture content but can also be used. In this recipe, the primary reason I choose soft brown sugar is that it is the same ingredient used to make the rich golden butterscotch sauce and simplifies shopping (rather than buying two different sugars for one recipe).

I like to create a crisp crust on the cake which when heated adds contrast to the silky smooth sauce. So, I don’t line the walls of the tin with parchment paper – I just line the base. Feel free to add a pinch of spice to the sponge (using ginger, cinnamon, or cloves) or add a dash of whiskey to the butterscotch sauce. Serve reheated with piping hot sauce.

It is totally irresistible and guaranteed to please when served with a scoop of ice-cream.

STICKY TOFFEE CAKE WITH BUTTERSCOTCH SAUCE

Ingredients
Serves 8
75g pitted (destoned) dates
150ml water
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
100g butter, room temperature
200g soft brown sugar
3 eggs
1tsp vanilla extract
1tsp treacle
200g self-raising flour, sieved

For the butterscotch sauce
150g soft brown sugar
100g butter
100ml cream
Pinch of sea-salt flakes

To serve
Freshly whipped cream, or ice cream

Method
Use butter to grease a 20cm non stick loose bottomed cake tin (I only line the base). Preheat the oven to 190°C fan.

Use a sharp knife to chop the dates into small pieces (a knife is better than a food processor as the dates are very sticky and will just clog up the blade). 

Place the chopped dates in a small saucepan, add in the water and bring to a simmer for 3 minutes until the dates are softened. 

Next add the bicarbonate of soda and stir in to combine. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric whisk to mix the butter and sugar together for 5 minutes until well creamed. Gradually whisk in the eggs, one at a time. Mix in the vanilla and treacle.

Whisk in the flour and when fully combined, whisk in the softened dates (including the liquid in the saucepan). 

Add the batter to the cake tin and bake on the middle shelf of a preheated oven at 190°C for approx 35-40 minutes until firm to the touch and the sides of the cake are pulling away from the walls of the tin. Then test “doneness” by inserting a skewer into the centre of the cake to see if it comes out clean. If not done, reduce the temperature to 160°C and bake for a further 5-10 minutes.

To make the butterscotch sauce, in a small saucepan over a medium heat, melt the sugar and butter together and bring to a simmer. Add in the cream, stir until fully combined and continue to simmer for 5 minutes. Add in a pinch of sea-salt flakes. 

Reheat the cake and serve with hot butterscotch sauce.

Variation
For individual puddings, divide the cake mixture between 12 well-greased dariole moulds, ramekins or muffin cases, then bake at 180°C fan for approx 20 minutes.

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