Sticky Toffee Pudding
Category: Desserts & Sweets | Blog URL: http://therunawayspoon.com/blog/2010/01/sticky-toffee-pudding/
This recipe was entered in The Foodista Best of Food Blogs Cookbook contest, a compilation of the world’s best food blogs which was published in Fall 2010.
Photo: The Runaway Spoon
British food gets a bad rap. But I think some of that comes from the tourist trade. When an American traveler heads to the UK, they generally want a lot of “ye olde” and this often involves chain restaurants, much like a Denny’s or a Shoney’s. Even some of the most charming, half-timbered, stain-glassed pubs in England are run by companies that market “traditional” English fare, smack-dab in the middle of the most visited attractions. But much like at home, beware any menu that has pictures. So Fish and Chips are soggy, Steak and Ale pie is gluey and Spotted Dick just makes people laugh.
But I have a fondness for British food. I think it is homey and comforting and when done properly, amazingly rich and satisfying. Maybe it’s a little strange that I have developed this fondness, for a lot of my early introduction to real Brit food was either the tourist traps or institutional. I have spent, summer, college semester and grad school as a student and the food in the dining halls of England is as dismal as it is so often in the States. Meals were generally gray, and positively swimming in some form of greasy gravy, unidentified sauce and custard covering every imaginable dessert. I could, however, see the beauty underneath the gravy – recognizing that any wonderful dish can be made poorly. I have an ongoing obsession with creating versions of British classics that are true to original intentions, but move past the bad reputation. I search them out when I am in England each year, read cookbooks and most importantly glean information from British friends.
All this being said, Sticky Toffee Pudding is a British classic that is good on every level. There are a few foods I fell this way about – even bad Sticky Toffee Pudding is still pretty good. There is a museum café in London that serves a Sticky Toffee that is so stodgy and heavy, it would never make someone want to recreate it. But that sugary, treacley sauce will make you eat every last bite. And one of the first things I do when I arrive in London at my rented flat is hit the grocery store that is sure to have a small tin of Cartmel Village Shop Sticky Toffee Pudding ready to heat up.
First off, pudding is a generic term for British desserts. This is cakey and moist and has nothing to do with Jell-O. The dates lend moistness and sweet depth – this does not taste like a date cake. After many years of eating Sticky Toffee Pudding, and many, many tries at duplicating it, here is my version.