Several years ago, I visited England out of the blue. My sister lived in Oxford at the time and I found a deal of the century to fly to England for USD $280 from Hong Kong (I was living in HK). I was granted 10 days of vacation from my mother and wife duties. I booked the ticket and flew. We spent the 10 days together as sisters traveling to many lovely places in England.
Traveling to places without trying the local dishes is like eating cake without the icing. To be honest, I didn’t expect much regarding the food, but to my surprise, everything I tasted was just wonderful. Out of all the delicious food I tried, this Sticky Date Pudding Cake (or Sticky Toffee Pudding) was the most unforgettable. Well, maybe because there was a memory behind this indulgent treat.
It was in Canterbury. We visited the famous Canterbury cathedral and learned some of the great history of England. As we strolled down the street, my sister and I discovered a small chapel of the Church of England. As far as I know the Church of England was established by King Henry VIII of England. There was a worship service underway in the chapel with a small group of people. Out of curiosity we went inside and listen to the sermon for 20 minutes.
Well, so far it sounds like a wonderful traveling experience, isn’t it? The problem began afterward. My sister and I developed a little argument over the characteristics of this church. I thought that the service was similar to Catholic services but my sister thought it was more Protestant. We held fast to our small opinions and in our pride we eventually found ourselves in a great conflict over the political points of view of a king of England who lived 500 years ago. We didn’t realize that our arguing voices were quite loud until we felt the glare of passers-by staring at us. (I think Henry VIII is a lucky guy to still be the main focus of conversation between two random southern Korean ladies who have nothing to do with him.)
Anyway, the arguing made us hungry, so we went into a random pub to dine with our feelings still irritated. We each ordered a different dish for dinner and then ate in silence while our tempers simmered. Then, to close a long day of contention with a sweet finale, we agreed to order a dessert to share. You guessed it–it was this Sticky Date Pudding Cake. Oh, my! It was so good that we literally licked the plate. The melt-in-your-mouth pudding comforted the troubled hearts of two sisters from Korea. And it made us to soften our feelings to each other.
As we walked out of the pub, we became the best friends again, forgetting all about the ordeal we had before the meal. As you see, foods do bring people closer together. It gets even better if that involves a sweet treat. Don’t ya think?
So here is the recipe. Don’t let the words “date” and “pudding” discourage you. It is a warm, gooey cake that even my picky, chocolate-loving children absolutely adore!
The pinnacle of sticky goodness is right here. The tender, soft, and almost pudding-like heaven…
This was the sweet treat that helped two adorable, middle-aged Korean ladies to reconcile over a conflict involving the King of England. And every time I make this cake, I will always remember His Majesty. (I sometimes wonder if King Henry and his 6 wives ever tried this cake.)
This is a truly comforting dessert for the cold days of winter. If you want an extra luxury, add a dollop of cream or vanilla ice cream on top. You will be flying to HEAVEN.
Sticky Date Pudding Cake
- 250 g 9 oz pitted whole dates, chopped
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1-1/2 cup boiling water
- 2 cup all purpose flour
- 1-1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 stick butter softened
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
For the caramel sauce:
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1-1/4 cup cream
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 4 tablespoon butter
- Preheat oven to 350ºF
- Put chopped dates and baking soda in a bowl. Pour the boiling water over and let it stand for 20 minutes.
- Another mixing bowl whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together. Set aside.
- In a electric mixer with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and brown sugar until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, and vanilla and beat until the mixture is creamy.
- Add the flour and beat until combined. Add the soaked dates and the liquid into the flour mixture and fold together with a spoon until combined.
- Pour the batter into a greased 7" x 11" baking pan and bake for 35-40 minutes or skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Meanwhile make the sauce by heating brown sugar, cream, vanilla, and butter in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Let the sauce comes to a boil stirring often. Reduce the heat to med-low and simmer for 2 minutes.
- When the cake is done, pierce the cake with a skewer liberally. Pour 1/2 cup of the warm sauce over warm cake. Let it stand for 10 minutes. Serve the cake warm with remaining sauce and vanilla ice cream, if desired.