I remember my first taste of sticky date pudding.
It was on a particularly cold winter’s day during a family vacation in Margaret River, Western Australia. We sat down for lunch in the restaurant of one of the vineyards. I remember that lunch was good but the one dish that left me such a deep impression was the dessert – sticky date pudding.
Till this day, a decade later, my family and I still reminisce about the sticky date pudding we had that day.
Thankfully for me (and us), we need not travel so far to satisfy a sticky date pudding craving. I’ve made this so many times that I lost count and it remains as one of my favourite desserts.
A sticky date pudding seems like an easy enough dessert to make but a good one is somehow rather elusive; somehow the ones I find in some of the restaurants doesn’t tick all the right boxes.
A good sticky date pudding needs the right balance of moistness and density; it has to have the right amount of sweetness.
I think this recipe works well as long as you pay attention to the baking time and temperature, as with all puddings. I know that some swear by a bain marie or water bath for the perfect sticky date puddings, opting for a more controlled approach in temperature so that it doesn’t become over-baked or too tough. I personally don’t find that it is absolutely necessary; I find it quite a fuss to use a bain marie but that’s your call.
I’ve included my go-to recipe below. You may even wish to swop the dates for dried figs or apricots. I heard that they are pretty awesome as well.
Recipe: Sticky date pudding
Makes 12 individual puddings in half spherical silicon mould . Alternatively, you can use large muffin moulds
I can’t remember where I first got my sticky date pudding recipe from. I have tweaked it so many times since and this is my favourite. It is important not to substitute the sugar with white sugar as the brown sugars add a nice dark molasses flavour with much less sweetness.
250g dried dates, pitted and chopped
175ml boiling water
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 tsp baking soda
75g unsalted butter, cubed
70g light brown sugar
70g muscavado sugar or dark brown sugar
120g eggs (2 large eggs), room temperature
175g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
For the toffee sauce:
90g light brown sugar
85g muscavado sugar or dark brown sugar
110g unsalted butter, cubed
70 ml double cream (with >35% fat)
25g pecan nuts, chopped ( I used walnuts this time)
1. Soaking of dates: Start by pitting the dates and chopped them up roughly. Add them into hot water and add vanilla extract and baking soda. Set aside for about 5-10 minutes while prepar
2. Cream butter and both the sugars until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time.
3. Add in sifted dry ingredients in three ingredients, alternating with the date mixture (including all the liquid), until just incorporated. Do not over-beat mixture.
4. The mixture would look sloppy at this point but that it is how it should be. Fill your silicon moulds/greased muffin trays with the pudding mixture. Tap the tray against the counter top twice, and firmly to knock out any huge air bubbles in the pudding.
5. Preheat oven to 170 degrees Celsius and bake for about 25 -30 minutes until the tops springs back to touch. Be careful not to over-bake it, if not it may become tough.
6. For the toffee sauce: Place cubed butter, sugar, cream in a pot and combine together over medium-low heat and bring it to a boil and then allow it to simmer for about 5 minutes. Make sure all sugar crystals have dissolved and butter has melted completely. The mixture should be thick and uniform.
7. To serve: Place warm pudding onto a slightly deep dish, scatter nuts over and pour over warm toffee sauce. Best with a dollop of vanilla creme fraiche or vanilla bean ice cream for a complete dessert experience!
*Storage tips: It is best to eat this straight out of the oven but if you have leftovers, you can store the sticky date puddings in an airtight container and the sauce in the fridge covered with cling wrap. Re-heat the puddings with the sauce in an oven for about 5-7 minutes before eating.