Jane Hornby's Sticky Toffee Pudding


This traditional British holiday dessert from food writer Jane Hornby's "What to Cook and How to Cook It" is a cross between sticky toffee and Christmas pudding, but with a lighter feel. Dates add moisture and sweetness.


For the Cake

  • 5 ounces pitted dates

  • ½ cup plus 6 tablespoons (1 ¾ sticks) unsalted butter, plus more for pan

  • 1 scant cup packed dark-brown sugar

  • 4 large eggs

  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • Pinch of ground clove

  • Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

  • 1 ¼ cups self-rising flour

  • ¼ teaspoon coarse salt

For the Sauce

  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

  • ½ cup packed dark-brown sugar

  • cup heavy cream

For Serving

  • Heavy cream (optional)

  • Ice cream (optional)


  1. Make the cake: Place dates in a small saucepan and add just enough water to cover. Place pan over medium heat and bring to a boil; cook until dates are very soft, about 5 minutes.

  2. Drain the dates and discard cooking liquid. Transfer to the bowl of a food processor; process until smooth. Let cool slightly. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees; butter an 8-by-8-inch baking pan and line with parchment paper.

  3. Add butter and brown sugar to bowl of food processor with dates; process until smooth.

  4. Add eggs, vanilla, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, flour, and salt; process until smooth. Spoon batter into prepared pan; transfer to oven and bake until a cake tester inserted into cake comes out dry, 40 to 45 minutes.

  5. Make the sauce: Meanwhile, place butter and sugar in a medium saucepan. Add heavy cream and cook over low heat until butter is melted and sugar dissolved, about 5 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high and simmer until sauce has thickened and darkened, about 10 minutes; remove from heat and set aside.

  6. Cut cake into squares and transfer to serving plates. Spoon sauce over cake and serve with cream or ice cream, if desired.

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