Who knew a sticky toffee pudding could save the day?
About week ago, I excitedly planned a list of recipes to write and test. I was probably lying in bed at the time and frustrated that it was night, hence the cooking could not commence immediately. Over the following days, I eagerly made rhubarb ketchup, sesame brownie cookies, and a chocolate bread and butter pudding – all of which were good! But just good, you know? If I’m going to share a recipe on this old blog here, dear reader, I I expect it to be perfect. However, the recipes of last week needed a tweak here or there, a little nudge in the right direction to gain that eye-widening moment of ‘PHWOAR’ deliciousness – evidently I’m a perfectionist.
During the radio silence, it’s been a week of me bounding into the kitchen to see what havoc I could create rather like an enthusiastic puppy, and then leaving with my tail between my legs. I’m sure we’ve all been there.
After the third experiment, it’s easy to dramatically declare, ‘Fine! Cooking is CLEARLY not for me!’ meanwhile over-analysing your edited recipe like you’re searching for code, all to prepare you for your next attempt.
However, my faith that I will eventually make something of which I am proud is far greater than my fear that everything from now on will be disappointing! For those of us who have a passion for cooking – we thrive on concocting new recipes, trialling them, debating their pros and cons, then stashing them in the freezer because we’ve made too much in the last week and the leftovers take up all the space on the kitchen counter.
And so I attacked this last project with the same amount of vigour as the previous (what-feels-like-millions-but-in-fact-were-only-three) experiments. With spring finally here, and sunlight warming my legs rather deliciously as I write this, it seems like my last chance to make a hot stodgy pudding before the ice creams, the salads and the tarts of the summer make an appearance (she writes praying it doesn’t rain tomorrow).
Yesterday, I made a roast buttermilk chicken with all the trimmings and a jug full of gravy. As Tom Kerridge says, ‘the house smelt of Sundays.’ Afterwards, I found myself back in the kitchen’s clutches, rather like Smeagol possessed by the ring, to make orange and ginger sticky toffee puddings. And they were delicious.
Carrying on from the dessert theme, sticky toffee pudding is a treacly sponge dessert, drowned in caramel sauce, and a pub favourite. Pubs are the masters of stodge.
I had been curious to try sticky toffee pudding combined with other flavours – orange and ginger are fragrant and warming and can stand out from the dominating rich caramel. Plus, I love any excuse to eat a mouthful of melt-in-the-mouth sponge, moistened with dates and full of stem ginger like nuggets of gold. It’s sure to make me widen my eyes and think, ‘PHWOAR!’
After all the perfectionism of the last few days, I’m actually just a woman of simple pleasures.
Orange and ginger sticky toffee puddings
Adapted from James Martin’s recipe
This recipe requires a food processor to purée your dates. At this stage, everything can be a bit messy and sticky as it all happens at once, so just make sure all is prepped and ready to go.
- 55g soft unsalted butter + extra for greasing the moulds
- 150g demerara sugar
- 1 tbsp golden syrup
- 2 eggs
- 2 tbsp treacle
- 1 large orange or 2 big satsumas or clementines
- 2 nuggets of stem ginger, drained from the syrup and chopped into small pieces
- 200g self-raising flour
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 200g pitted dates, or prunes if you can’t get hold of dates
- 275ml boiling water
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
For the ginger caramel sauce
- 110g double cream
- 55g unsalted butter
- 55g dark muscovado sugar
- 1 tbsp golden syrup
- 50ml stem ginger syrup
- Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan/400F. Grease 6 pudding moulds with a little butter
- In a bowl, beat together the butter and demerara sugar until combined and light gold, then add the golden syrup and mix again. Crack the eggs into a small bowl and add the treacle. Beat them together and pour a splash of the mixture into the butter and sugar. Beat to combine and scrape the sides of the bowl clean with a spatula. Add a tablespoon of the pre-weighed flour and again beat to combine. Repeat with the egg and treacle, and then a spoonful of flour, continuously scraping the bowl. Continue until all the egg and treacle is incorporated.
- Grate in the orange zest and add the juice, as well as the small chunks of stem ginger and mix them into the batter.
- Add the rest of the flour and ground ginger and stir to combine – you don’t need to carefully fold.
- Pour the dates or prunes into the food processor along with the boiling water. Blitz until smooth then add the vanilla and bicarb. The purée will immediately froth like honeycomb so quickly pour the mixture into the cake batter and fold together.
- Pour the pudding mixture into the moulds – they will be quite full. Stand them on a baking tray and slide it into the oven to bake for 20-25 minutes, until they are well-risen and springy, and a skewer is inserted into the centres and comes away with a few sticky crumbs – you don’t want it to be completely clean as the puddings need to be moist!
- Meanwhile make the caramel sauce. Put everything in a saucepan and set it over medium heat. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes until deep gold and slightly thickened.
- Remove the sponges by running a cutlery knife around the edge; they should plop out easily. Serve drizzled in sauce, with vanilla ice cream on the side.