Wednesday, February 12, 2014

sticky toffee pudding

I am about to unleash three words that will change your life: Sticky, Toffee, Pudding. If France gave us the mother sauces, then this, surely, is one of the mother puddings. Dense, sweet, fruity and flooded with toffee sauce. Of course, you can use the best quality dried dates you can get your hands on, however, because you boil the dates in a significant amount of strong tea, it is a perfect way to use up dried dates that, we’ll just say, have lost the suppleness of youth. Fortunately, dates are something I always have lurking in the back of my pantry, and usually they are bordering on well past their prime. If I’m being completely frank, I need no excuse to make this pudding, but I like to think of it as diligent frugality when I make it in the late autumn to use up last years dates, before I order new dates for this year’s Fruitcake.  

The recipe makes enough toffee sauce for two puddings; you’ll thank me for the excess. If you have self control, you can freeze it and use it the next time you make this, if like me you…do not, it is delicious on ice cream, and can turn a dreary store bought chocolate pound cake into something wonderful. You can also just dip a spoon into the sauce and eat it straight out of the jar. Did I mention a lack of self control? 

If you are not an Anglophile like me, this dessert might seem stogy and terribly, well let’s face it, brown. I promise you it is not stogy or boring. The taste is sweet with just a hint of bitterness and citrus - provided by the tea. The toffee sauce is slightly fruity as well as boozy. This isn’t a nursery school treat, it’s adult, sophisticated and rich.  

Recipe following cut:
23cm [9”] spring form pan, parchment baking paper, large 5.20L [5.5qt] capacity heat proof mixing bowl, medium ~3.3L [ 3.5 qt.] mixing bowl, 3.3 L [3.5qt] capacity saucepan, 250 ml [1 cup] capacity liquid measuring cup, heatproof silicone spatula, wire whisk, silicon brush for buttering pan, 500ml [2 cup] capacity fine mesh sieve, wire cooling rack 

225g chopped dates [~ 1½ cups]
250 ml Earl Grey Tea* – very strong [~1 cup]
100g unsalted butter – at room temperature + more for pan [~ scant ½ cup or 7 tbsp]
175g granulated sugar ~[½ cup + 2 tbsp]
165g eggs [~3 large] 150 ml
4g pure vanilla extract [~1 tsp] 5ml
225g self rising flour** [~1 cups]
6g baking soda [~1 tsp]
2g ground cinnamon [~scant 1 tsp]
1g nutmeg [~½ tsp] 

275g golden syrup – Lyle’s brand [~11oz. can or jar]***
110g unsalted butter – at room temperature [~1/2cup – 1 stick]
250g granulated sugar
225ml heavy cream
4g pure vanilla extract [~1 tsp] 5ml
30 ml brandy, rum, or bourbon – optional [~2 tbsp] 

* To make strong Earl Grey Tea combine 500ml boiling water with 2 – 3 sachets of tea or the equivalent of 2 tsp of loose leaf tea. Steep 10 – 12 minutes.  

** To make your own self raising flour, combine 2 cups all purpose flour, 1 tbsp baking powder, and 1 tsp fine grade sea salt.  

*** If you cannot find golden syrup at your supermarket you can substitute dark corn syrup, or glucose syrup in each volume without a loss in the finished sauce, but I encourage you to seek out Lyle’s Golden Syrup on-line. You will not be able to stop putting it on things like oatmeal, ice cream, short cakes, or scones.  

Mise en Place:
Preheat oven to 180ºC [350ºF]  

Butter the bottom and sides of the spring form pan. Cut a disk of parchment to fit the bottom of the pan, and line the sides with parchment making sure the lining comes 2cm [~1 inch] above the sides of the pan. Butter the parchment and set aside.  

Weight butter and sugar together in the large heat proof bowl and set on a clear work surface.  

Weight dates into the sauce pan and add the tea. Place on stovetop until needed. 

Weight the self raising flour, baking soda, and spices in the medium mixing bowl and set near the heatproof bowl.  

Weigh eggs into the measuring cup and set with the other ingredients on the work surface.  

Bring the dates and tea to a boil over medium/high heat. Allow to stand for ten minutes to fully rehydrate the dates, and to cool slightly. 

Beat the butter and sugar together vigorously with a wire whisk until the mixture blanches and becomes fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating vigorously in between additions until the mixture returns to a homogeneous light and fluffy texture. 

Add the warm date mixture while mixing, and beat to incorporate. Mixture may appear broken at this stage, but should not have the texture of scrambled eggs. 

Sift the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, spices) over the wet mixture using the sieve. 

Switch from the whisk to the spatula and quickly but gently fold the flour into the batter. 

Transfer batter to the prepared baking pan, and bake in the oven for 40 – 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  

Wash and dry the whisk, spatula, liquid measuring cup and saucepan, and reuse for the toffee sauce. 

Weigh the heavy cream and vanilla together in the measuring cup and set aside until needed. 

Weight the golden syrup, butter and sugar into the sauce pan and heat over medium/high heat until boiling. Cook for 4 – 5 minutes until the bubbles become large and stack on top of each other. Mixture should reach 118 - 120ºC [235ºF] or soft ball stage.  

Add the heavy cream and vanilla. Mixture will boil violently when the liquids are first added. Stir to combine and then measure and add the brandy or bourbon if using.  

Transfer to a 1L capacity heat safe storage container, and cool until needed. Mixture will thicken as it cools.

When pudding/cake has finished baking, cool in pan for ten minutes and then remove the sides of the spring form pan. Cool completely on a wire rack.  

To serve, remove cake from the spring form base and peel away the parchment. Re-warm a desired portion of sauce in a microwave or over very low heat in butter warmer. Cut individual portions and pour sauce over each serving, or, allow diners to serve themselves. 

Store pudding at room temperature for up to three days, or refrigerate for up to one week. Keep the sauce separately, in an air tight container for up to one month under refrigeration, or six months in the freezer.  

Make ahead:
This sauce contains enough sugar that it never really freezes hard, and will defrost on the counter in minutes.






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