As far as I'm concerned, a roast dinner simply must be followed by a decadent pud, and you can't get much more decadent than a classic sticky toffee pudding. My version is made using individual basins and it is steamed to make the most deliciously moist, self-saucing puddings. And with Christmas Day being just four weeks away tomorrow (sorry to remind those of you who are still in denial), these mini puddings would make a great prepare-ahead alternative to the traditional Christmas pudding if, like me, you're not a fan.
Before I had kids to cater for, making cakes and desserts was my absolute favourite kind of cooking but, with less free time and more focus on healthy family meals, I've found myself doing less baking in recent years. I'd actually forgotten how easy this recipe is - sure, there are a few stages involved but none of them is especially difficult. It's a great recipe to try when you have a little time to potter around in the kitchen.
I love the fact these desserts are portion-controlled (a single pudding will easily feed two children or one hungry grown-up) and any leftover puds can be whacked in the freezer for another day. Call me boring, but feeding my freezer makes me very happy!
Sticky Toffee Puddings
150ml boiling water
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
125g dates, chopped
175g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
40g cold unsalted butter
125g caster sugar
1 large egg, beaten
140g dark muscovado sugar
85g unsalted butter
4 tbsp (60ml) double cream
vanilla ice cream, custard or cream, to serve
To make the toffee sauce, put the muscovado sugar, butter and cream into a small saucepan over a low-medium heat. Stir until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved, then gently bring to the boil. Divide the sauce equally between six 150-ml non-metallic pudding basins and transfer to the fridge for at least 1 hour. The sauce needs to set a little before you add the sponge mixture on top.
Meanwhile, pour the boiling water into a heatproof measuring jug and add the bicarbonate of soda. Add the dates and give a good stir, then leave to soak for 1 hour.
To make the sponge, sift the flour and baking powder into a large mixture bowl. Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles dry breadcrumbs, then stir in the caster sugar. Drain the excess water from the dates (reserving the liquid), then gently stir the soaked dates and beaten egg into the flour mixture to form a dropping consistency (adding more of the reserved liquid if needed).
Remove the pudding basins from the fridge and divide the sponge mixture equally between them. Cover each basin with a square of aluminium foil, pleating it in the middle to allow for rising. Place in an electric steamer and steam for 40-45 minutes, until the sponge springs back when pressed.
Tip out the individual puddings onto a plate, scraping any remaining sauce out the basins with a small spatula. Serve with vanilla ice cream (our favourite), custard or cream.
- This is a great make-ahead recipe - make a few days ahead, then give each pudding (still in its basin) a 45-second to 1-minute (depending on wattage) blast in the microwave just before serving. Remember that heating more than one pudding at a time will take longer.
- Any leftover puddings should be frozen as soon as possible (still in their basins). They can be reheated from frozen - 1-1½ minutes in the microwave should do it, but make sure they're piping hot all the way through before serving.