Sticky Toffee Pudding

  • Time: 45 minutes + baking time
  • Serves: 8
  • Level: medium

‘We’ve showed you how to make a 10 min cheat sticky toffee pudding, but here’s how to make from scratch.’

'Dad was a judge for The Great British Bake Off today at Surbiton Farmers' Market! So here's dad's little online entry.'

What you need

The sticky toffee pudding recipe used imperial measures. I found it easier to change the setting on my electronic scales, but I have shown metric units as well.

For the pudding

4 oz (113.4 g) softened butter

6 oz (170.10 g) caster sugar

1/2 lb (226.80 g) flour

2 eggs at room temperature

6 oz (170.10) stoned dates

1/2 pt (284 ml) hot water

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp vanilla extract


For the toffee sauce

3 large Medjool dates stoned

3/4 tsp flour

300 ml double cream

150 ml single cream

160 g butter

150 g molasses sugar

3/4 tsp vanilla

Pinch of salt

Dad's Recipe Tales

A ‘posh nosh’ classic

This sticky toffee pudding is adapted from a recipe developed at the Sharrow Bay Hotel in 1960. It’s published in the Posh Nosh Book by Michael Smith (BBC ‘Pebble Mill’ 1979). Michael Smith presented Grace and Flavour and Posh Nosh, two cookery spots on Pebble Mill. These programmes are now lost in time – forgotten formats from the age of TV cooking when Delia Smith ruled the roost; when Derek Cooper broadcast the first Food Programme on BBC Radio Four and when we would need to wait another five years before Keith Floyd would hit our screens, enlightening us with his gastronomic knowledge whilst cooking on windy quaysides…

Posh Nosh is a fascinating insight into the culinary scene of the late 1970’s. It was conceived to celebrate a new breed of cooks emerging across the country, all of whom shared the status ‘gifted amateur’ rather than professional trained chef. These included the Roux brothers of the Waterside Inn, who qualify on a technicality, Nico Landenis of Chez Nico and Brian Sack and Francis Coulson of the Sharrow Bay Hotel. Smith says all the restaurants featured have been lavished with stars from the leading guides – but by this he means Egon Ronay as much as the Michelin Guide. Michelin stars were clearly scarce in those days and commentators might have been unwittingly ambivalent in appreciating their significance. Smith gives an oddly qualified compliment to the The Box Tree (also featured in his book) saying their two Michelin stars were ‘high praise indeed – from the French. These days, when Michelin stars are commonly recognised as a universal standard of excellence, it is easy to forget that the awarding entity is indeed a French hotel and restaurant reference guide.

Francis Coulson was a significant figure in the development of county house hotels, leading the way at Sharrow Bay with its accolades and awards, but sadly both Sack and Coulson did not live to see their hotel eventually attain its own Michelin star (which it received and kept for four years in 2008). But in their time the twosome went from strength to strength; Sack looked after the front of house and Coulson worked behind the scenes preparing service. Coulson was also a talented pastry chef excelling at puddings, pies and pastries. He’s credited as the originator of the sticky toffee pudding – something that in itself that might have stood as an epitaph for his career.  Coulson said that pastry-making is an art that comes as much from the heart as the hands – an fine sentiment coming from someone who would have known the exacting rigours of a pastry kitchen. I wonder what he thought when he saw his ‘posh’ sticky toffee pudding appear on the dessert menus of hundreds of restaurants around the world. No doubt he would have imagined his achievements greater and more encompassing than a mere pudding. Still, in the over-heated culinary world – where the latest trend and invention is ferociously sought after – who wouldn’t be proud to see their pudding become a timeless classic, effortlessly rising above the epicurean melee.

How Dad Cooked It

The pudding is adapted from a recipe from the Sharrow Bay Hotel

Finishing the pudding is in two stages using the same toffee sauce. The pudding can be made in advance and quickly heated before serving.

Preheat the oven to 190 C Gas 5

Butter a 11 in x 7 in cake tin

  1. Make the creamed butter mix. Cream the butter and sugar in a bowl with an electric beater until light and fluffy. Add one egg at a time and beat to combine.
  2. Add the flour. Sift the baking power and flour together into the butter mix and beat to combine.
  3. Make the date mix. Put the dates in a blender with the hot (not boiling) water. Put a towel over the blender and blend the dates. Add the vanilla and baking soda.
  4. Combine the mixes. Add the dates to the butter and flour and beat well to a smooth mix.
  5. Bake the pudding. Pour the mix into the cake tin and bake for about 40 minutes – until the top is springy or a when a skewer inserted into the pudding comes out clean.
  6. Make the toffee sauce. Chop the dates with the flour. Add to a pan with the remaining ingredients and stir to a simmer. Blend and sieve the sauce. Thin with more single cream if necessary. Set aside until ready to serve.
  7. Cool the pudding. When the cake is done take out of the oven and cool. Set aside until ready to serve.
  8. Preheat the oven to 200C gas 6.
  9. Reheat the pudding. Pour the toffee sauce evenly and thinly over the pudding. Bake for 5 – 10 mins – only enough to warm through and allow the top to bubble (but not burn!).
  10. Serve. Reheat the toffee sauce. Cut the puddings into individual portions and plate. Pour over the toffee sauce and serve with cream.

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