Truth be told, I have heard of how some restaurants in Singapore serve a kickass sticky date pudding, and as much as I have a sweet tooth, I wasn’t sold. The name of the dessert just doesn’t sound as appealing to me as other contenders in the menu, such as “Double Chocolate Fudge Cake Stack”, “Caramel Banana Flambé Tart”, and… you get my drift.
Boyyy was I wrong. After much persuasion from my friend who’s a Sticky Date Pudding convert, I finally caved and gave the dessert a try. In my head I had envisioned it to be gummy, dense, slightly sticky and chewy, like a health bar that’s made with dates. But, when my teeth sank into the warm, soft and moist cake, I was pleasantly surprised.
Why Is It Called A Pudding?
The word ‘“pudding” might conjure pictures of a thick custard in your minds. However, the word actually means two different things in the UK and US.
In the UK, pudding refers to something savoury or sweet that is cooked using boiling or steaming, such as a Christmas pudding – a boiled or steamed fruit cake. The word can also refer to the last course of the meal, what we commonly refer to as “dessert”. To make things more complicated, “pudding” is also used to refer to desserts which are traditionally cooked by steaming, such as the sticky date pudding, but are more often baked now.
On the other hand, in America, pudding is more often seen as a custard that’s thickened with cornstarch, such as the filling for these cream puffs.
As the sticky date pudding originated from the UK, it thus adopts the British etymology.
Chop and rehydrate dried dates before baking
What Is Sticky Date Pudding?
A sticky date pudding is a moist, fluffy cake that’s made using mashed dates and then drowned in sticky toffee or butterscotch sauce. A common accompaniment to this comforting dish is creamy vanilla ice cream, which provides a beautiful temperature and textural contrast to the warm pudding.
As the dates are a main component of this dish, it is advisable for you to use good quality dates. If you’re not a fan of dried dates, don’t worry, this cake actually tastes nothing like it! Before you start making the cake, you’ll have to rehydrate the dried dates with water before mashing them up into a paste. You may use a food processor too.
In this recipe, we use cake flour instead of all purpose flour for its lower protein content; this helps to yield a tenderer crumb. However, if you’re in a pinch, feel free to substitute it with an equal amount of all purpose flour.
The addition of brown sugar to the batter gives the cake its moistness, along with caramel undertones from the molasses in the brown sugar. This helps to provide a depth of flavour that regular white sugar cannot give you!
No ramekins? You may bake them in regular baking tins too!
Spice It Up
This dessert is commonly served during Christmas, and as we all know, Christmas desserts are all about the spices, just like Classic Christmas Fruit Cakes and Gingerbread Cookies. To add some warmth to your dish, we recommend adding 1 teaspoon each of cinnamon and nutmeg. Otherwise, for a spicier kick, use 1 to 2 teaspoons of ground ginger instead!
Sticky Date Pudding with Toffee Sauce
yields 8-10 servings / 8 ramekins
250g pitted dates
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
250g cake flour
150g brown sugar
1 tbsp golden syrup
100g unsalted butter
1/4 tsp salt
Unsalted butter (for greasing ramekins)
100g unsalted butter
50g brown sugar
60g golden syrup
80g heavy cream
- Boil water in an electric kettle or over a stovetop. Finely chop pitted dates and transfer to a bowl.
- Pour boiling water over chopped dates and submerge them completely. Leave to soak for about 20-30mins.
- In a large bowl, mix softened butter and brown sugar together and beat until mixture turns pale and fluffy.
- Add in eggs one at a time, then add golden syrup and mix until well combined.
- Using a whisk, stir together cake flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
- To the wet mixture, add half the cake flour mixture and whisk to combine, then add the other half.
- Use a fork or a potato masher to mash the soaked dates. It should form a smooth paste. Add date paste into cake mix and fold in with a spatula until well combined.
- Preheat oven to 175°C. Prepare your ramekins by buttering the insides of the ramekin, and divide the batter equally.
- Bake the cakes for 20-30min until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
- While the cake is baking, make the sauce. In a saucepan, add butter, brown sugar and golden syrup. Over low-med heat, heat ingredients until butter and sugar have melted fully. Add a pinch of salt if desired.
- Once melted and combined, whisk in cream.
Storage: Store cakes in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Reheat at 160°C for about 5-10 min.
A Comforting Christmas Treat
If you’re still not convinced about dates in your cake, try a small batch of this recipe (quarter it) and taste it for yourself – you might very well discover your next favourite dessert.
And if you’re looking to bring some festive treats to your next Christmas party, check out our Christmas Collection here!
Trying this recipe out? Make sure you hashtag #bakestarters on Instagram so we can see your wonderful creations!