Am I feeling bad that this year I have not baked anything festive? Actually I am. I do love different bakes for special times of the year. But sometimes, I just have to accept that it is not a good idea. So this year, no mincemeat, no Christmas cake, nothing. I have bought a Panettone, the Marks and Spencer chocolate, cranberry and orange one. This will satisfy my need for a festive bake (albeit one that I bought). Even Christmas day itself is going to be low key. I haven’t decided on the main course – which would ordinarily have been Nigella’s ham in coke, which is a many-times tried and trusted recipe. As for pudding, again I am taking the easy way out. I have bought ready made pastry and ready-made mincemeat and will make mince pies, served with (ready-made) brandy cream. I should be ashamed of myself.
Tony’s birthday is in December and again I usually bake a special cake for him (you can never be too caked-out in December!) but not this year. I did however bake this recipe from Good Housekeeping for Sticky Toffee Pudding Cake. Stupidly, I am unable to find a link to it.
I saw the recipe and immediately started thinking oooh….maybe if I just tweak it….I reigned myself in and kept my tweaking to a minimum. I simply replaced the liquid in the sponge with bourbon. There are just a couple of things I would do next time I bake this: once the dates have been soaked, I would mash them, so they were more like a puree as I think they will incorporate more smoothly into the sponge mixture; and for the pudding sauce, I would either completely replace the dark muscovado sugar with light muscovado sugar, or do half and half. Actually, I might even put some vanilla extract in the sauce (that makes it a third tweak!!). For me, personally the toffee sauce, whilst delicious, had too strong a molasses flavour. Having said that, everyone else loved the pudding and the sauce. It is all super easy to make too. My photos are a bit unappetising unfortunately.
100g stoned dates, finely chopped
100ml hot English Breakfast tea, freshly brewed (I replaced this with bourbon)
125g butter, salted
150g dark muscovado sugar
1 tablespoon golden syrup
2 medium eggs
125g self-raising flour
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
Preheat the oven to 180°C (160° Fan). Grease and line a 900g (2lb) loaf tin with baking parchment or a loaf tin liner.
Beat together the butter and sugar with an electric whisk until light and fluffy. Add the golden syrup and eggs and beat again. Fold in the flour and bicarbonate of soda until well incorporated, then stir in the date mixture (liquid and all) until just combined. Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the tin for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack.
Meanwhile, make the toffee sauce:
50g dark muscovado sugar
100ml double cream
In a small pan, heat together the sugar, butter and cream, stirring continuously until the sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil, stirring and let it bubble for about 2 minutes, stirring all the while.
Serve the cake warm, or at room temperature in slices with the sauce (reheat gently if required) and vanilla ice cream. The leftover cake reheats very well when wrapped up tightly in foil.
Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, I wish you a peaceful weekend 🙂