When Mary Berry says on National television that your pudding is “to die for”, you know you have done well! And this is the dessert I made in the final of Britain’s Best Home Cook that won her praise, as well as the praise of Chris Bavin and Dan Doherty.
Arguably the ultimate in comfort puddings, this is my take on a sticky toffee pudding, that I have been making for decades: it has the warming kick of spice from ginger and cinnamon, and what I think is a delightfully sour undertone from tamarind that is a subtle counter-balance to the sweetness of the pudding.
I like to have an even stickier, richer dessert experience, so I smother the cake in the sauce before popping it back in the oven just before serving: about 15 minutes in an oven preheated to 160(fan).
This recipe means a lot to me
This pudding holds a very special place in my heart: not only is it the first pudding I ever made for my partner, Simon, it was the last ever dish I made in Britain’s Best Home Cook. To receive such praise for this pudding makes it even more special.
Changes here and there
I sometimes like to make extra sauce to pour over each portion at the table but even without extra, the top and bottom of the pudding will give the stickyness you want in a pudding such as this.
I add some of the syrup from a jar of stem ginger to the sauce, and sometimes add a few pieces of stem ginger, chopped, to the cake mixture. I occasionally add about 100g peeled and finely chopped Bramley apple to the mixture for little bursts of sharpness.
The cake can be made a few days in advance, whch will develop its flavour even further. It can also be frozen, either without the sauce or with the sauce: just defrost it fully before heating it up.
A cake version
I often make this pudding into a cake, making the sponge as in the recipe below and letting it cool fully before topping with one of the following:
- a ginger caramel buttercream or
- a quick stem ginger icing (icing sugar mixed with stem ginger syrup)
Recipe: ginger & tamarind sticky toffee pudding – serves 8-10
- 60g unsalted butter, softened
- 170g soft dark brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons black treacle
- 2 large free-range eggs, at room temperature
- 200g self-raising flour
- 1 level teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- 1 level tablespoon ground ginger
- 1 level teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon tamarind paste
- 200g stoned dates, finely chopped
- 280ml boiling water
For the sauce:
- 150ml double cream
- 70g dark soft brown sugar
- 40g salted butter
- 1 tablespoon black treacle
- 3 tablespoons stem ginger syrup (from the jar)
- a generous splash of rum, brandy or whisky…. optional!
- pouring cream (single or double!) or custard
(1) Grease and base-line a cake tin that is at least 1″ deep: square, round, rectangular…..I often use a rectangular brownie tin, measuring about 30cm by 14cm. Preheat the oven to 180C (fan).
(2) Add the boiling water to the dates, give them a stir, and leave for about 5 minutes to soften up. You can either blitz this in a food processor/with a hand-held liquidiser stick for a few seconds to give a fairly coarse paste, or else leave as it is if you prefer visible chunks of dates in the pudding.
(3) Sieve the flour, cinnamon, ginger and bicarbonate of soda into a large bowl. Add the rest of the cake ingredients, along with the dates and water mixture, into a large bowl and mix well until you get a smooth batter.
(4) Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 35-40 minutes until well risen: a skewer or cocktail stick inserted into the centre should come out clean. Leave to cool in the tin.
NB: the cake can be wrapped in clingfilm for 2-3 days, during which time it will mature as the spices work their magic.
(5) Make the sauce: put all the ingredients into a small pan, apart from the alcohol (if using), and slowly bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Simmer for about 5 minutes on a low heat. If using alcohol, stir it into the hot sauce.
(6) Remove the cake from the tin and peel off the greaseproof. Pour about half of the sauce into the bottom of the same cake tin and place the sponge on top, patting it lightly into the sauce.
Spoon the rest of the sauce on top and smooth over. Cover with foil and leave until nearly ready to serve. NB: the cake can also be frozen at this stage in its tin.
(7) When you are almost ready to eat, place the sauce-smothered cake in an oven pre-heated to 160C(fan) for about 15 minutes until bubbling all over.
(8) Serve hot with some pouring cream, ice cream, custard or anything naughty!