It's that month again....the long, dark one that seems to go on forever! Actually, I quite enjoy it - but there's no doubt that it can be difficult to get through. Some things make it easier...the gloomy weather is the perfect excuse (if you need one) to spend more time in the kitchen. Nothing cheers me up like an afternoon of baking, with Radio 4 and Alice as company!
This recipe is absolutely perfect for brightening a January evening - and it's really, really easy. I have a lot to thank Nigella Lawson for...even though her recent programmes have felt a bit false & over-staged, I just know (food-wise at least) we are kindred spirits! I have a re-run of Nigella Kitchen on as I write, and she's waxing lyrical about lemons...one of my absolute favourite ingredients.
I have been baking this Easy Sticky Toffee Pudding ever since I found the recipe in 'Nigella Bites' a few years ago. It's a great favourite at one of the pub-restaurants that I supply...and I thought that you might like to try it too!
I've converted it to cups as well (impressed?) and even remembered to take photos throughout the baking process today. Just bear in mind that I was making 4 x the recipe...so if you make it, there won't be as much of everything!
Sticky Toffee Pudding a la Lawson
Preheat oven to 190c/375f
I use square foil 23cm/9" pans for my puddings...but any baking dish (glass or pottery is fine) that holds roughly 1 1/2 litres will do...I line mine with baking parchment but you can just butter yours if you prefer!
175g/1& 1/4 cups SELF RAISING FLOUR
100g/1/2 cup (packed) DARK BROWN or MUSCOVADO SUGAR
50g/1/2 stick UNSALTED BUTTER
125ml/ 1/2 cup WHOLE MILK
1 tsp PURE VANILLA EXTRACT
200g/1 & 1/4 cups CHOPPED STONELESS DATES
For the sauce
200g/2 cups (lightly packed) DARK BROWN MUSCOVADO SUGAR
25g/ 1/4 cup UNSALTED BUTTER
Ok....here we go!
Place the flour & sugar into a large bowl & mix to combine - I use my fingers to squash any lumps in the sugar, but a few don't matter & are actually a nice surprise as you eat!
Melt the butter....I would normally use a microwave for this, but mine has gone kaput!
Remove from the heat & pour the milk over the butter, then whisk in the egg and vanilla extract...
Pour the liquid onto the dry ingredients and stir well...
Mix in the dates and scrape into the prepared dish, levelling the top...
At this stage, you need to put the kettle on - both for the recipe AND for the cup of tea you can enjoy while it's baking!
Now top the mixture with the remaining sugar and spread evenly...yes, that IS the sauce sugar! This is one of those amazing puddings that turns itself upside down while it cooks...trust me (as I trusted Nigella!) Then dot the sugar all over with pieces of the remaining butter...
By now the kettle should have boiled! Pour boiling water all over the top of the pudding... (if you are worried about getting it to the oven, you can put the dish in the oven first and then add the water!)
Make sure the sugar is completely wet...about 500ml/2 cups water, but don't worry too much about measuring it accurately...
If you haven't already, put it in the oven and bake for around 40 minutes. I always rotate mine halfway through, to ensure that it cooks evenly. After 20 minutes it will look something like this....
After 40 minutes or so, remove from the oven. The top should be well browned and slightly crusty. If you push with your finger it should feel firm...
But DO remember that it has lots of delicious butterscotch-y sauce beneath...so it will be shifting around in it's dish! You will probably see the shiny toffee bubbling up at the edges while it's still hot.
So that's all there is to it! Either serve it straight from the oven in it's cooking dish, or cool and reheat as needed (in the microwave is fine, but don't overheat) Absolutely delicious with cream, ice cream or custard of course!
Highly recommended to chase away the winter blues...or just to make for someone you love very much (and, yes, that CAN be yourself!!)
Happy happy New Year...I look forward to cooking my way through 2012 with you! xoxo