Sticky Toffee Pudding With Brandy Caramel Sauce

The weather in Hampshire has taken a sudden cooler turn this week. My wife tells me one cannot pretend it is shorts weather here any longer and I must wear longer attire. It will reduce the puzzled looks from other shoppers on the plus side.

Anyway, as the shorter days and longer nights descend on the northern half of the world, seasonal fresh soft fruit for dessert begin to disappear from our menu.

Fear not, one of the absolute delights is the ability to justify the treat of an old fashioned English Pudding.

I have eaten this many times, but always thought it would be complicated and time consuming to reproduce an inferior imitation of what is served in restaurants – surely you need some specialized equipment or ingredient to make something so good. All you need is around an hour, a cold evening and a few hungry friends..

Serves 4


150g dates
200ml of Earl grey tea (English breakfast is ok too)
60g butter
90g caster sugar
2 small eggs
120g self raising flour (or 1 extra large)
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp good vanilla essence
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp of horlicks or malted milk drink powder (don’t worry too much if you don’t have it)

Brandy caramel sauce

120g white sugar
40ml water
200ml double cream
40ml of brandy (or whiskey)


1. Preheat oven to 165c
2. Soak dates in hot tea for at least 30 mins, overnight is fine.
3. Chop soaked dates finely
4. Oil a loaf tin well (it is called sticky for a reason…
5. Cream butter and sugar together until pale in colour. Add egg little by little, beating well between each addition to avoid curdling.
6. Fold in all remaining ingredients (not the sauce ones!) until just combined.
7. Place in loaf tin and bake for 40 mins or until inserted knife comes out clean.
8. Now for the sauce, put sugar and water in small pan and heat on a high heat.
9. Do not walk away from the pan and do not stir. Just watch it bubble until it begins to turn from golden to light brown. Remember do not stir AT ALL!
10. Once it goes from golden to light brown you have a window of around 10 seconds otherwise it will burn and you need to start again.
11. Take off heat and immediately add cream – it will froth right up and look really angry. be careful as it is hotter than hell! Once it begins to calm down you may stir this quite hard, but carefully.
12. The sauce is great at that point, try it if you like (carefully) as it is sensational.  The sauce is great just served with vanilla or chocolate ice cream.
13. Add brandy to sauce and stir well.
14. Pour a third sauce over pudding in loaf tin. Cut pudding into thick slices served with rest of sauce and a swirl of cold cream.
15. Undo your belt a little and enjoy the happy pudding induced bliss like state.