Monday, September 24, 2012

A Sweet and Sticky Challenge

Ah, those three little words everyone wants whispered in their ear:




(With extra sauce)

Make that six.

Mr. Moustache and I are very partial to a Sticky Toffee Pudding (STP). But this STP was not just for our pleasure last Sunday. Oh no. There's a lot more at stake. This, dear reader, is the Great Irish Bake Off Challenge. 

Caítríona from Wholesome Ireland is the brains behind this culinary contest. Her beautiful blog shares appetising recipes from her family kitchen. And if you want to know how to make a cake out of spaghetti and meatballs, she's your woman. As you might have guessed, the contest is based around the Great British Bake Off TV series (Brendan to win!). The task is to cook a recipe from the show, with Bloggers/Twitters/Emailers/Facebookers competing for the coveted title of Great Irish Bake Off Champion each week. 

So I threw down the whisk.  And here's what happened.

What you (possibly) didn't know about STP

STP's exact origins are also sticky. The dominant version is that it was developed by Francis Coulson in 1960, of the Sharrow Bay Hotel in the Lake District. But one of the other tales is that the landlady of The Gait Inn in Millington invented it in 1907. Whether STP is 52 or 105 years old is debatable, but one thing is for sure: It's a goey moist little divil that you can't help but love, even if your cardiologist doesn't. 

Recipe Research

It's been a while since I dabbled in STP. After online and cookbook research I adapted Simon Hopkinson's recipe on BBC Food. My pudding didn't turn out as dark because somebody forgot the molasses sugar, and somebody said it was unreasonable to expect someone to go out again in the pouring rain and would demerara sugar not do instead? Is monopoly money the same as real money? For a crunch I added some walnuts.


300ml/9fl oz double cream
100g/3.5oz butter
100g/3.5oz demerara sugar

275ml/10fl oz boiling water
175g/6oz dates, chopped
1 rounded tsp bicarbonate of soda
50g/2oz salted butter, softened and extra for greasing
150g/5oz demerara sugar
2 free-range eggs
175g/6oz self-raising flour
A pinch of salt
75g/2.5oz walnuts


Preparation time 20 minutes
Cooking time 45 minutes 

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4

Place all the sauce ingredients in a pan and heat gently until the butter melts. Simmer for 4 - 5 minutes. 

It's ready when it coats the back of a spoon. All nice and shiny like: 

Butter a baking dish generously (I used a 24 x 24cm dish). 

What could possibly make a STP even better? What about a layer of sauce on the bottom? Oh yes, that'll do. An ingenious tip from Mani Niall. Pour half the sauce into the dish and put in the freezer to set while you make the pudding.

Pour the boiling water into a bowl with the dates and bicarbonate of soda. Is it just me or do you feel like a proper baker using bicarbonate of soda? Just me then. Stir and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl beat together the butter and eggs until fluffy. 

Then beat in the eggs, one at a time.

Now, how are those dates coming along? Juicy: 

Nearly there. Sift the flour and salt into the same bowl. Then add the softened dates (including the water) and walnuts. At this stage Mr. Moustache was looking at bit confused, where was the tasty pudding I'd promised? Not this: 

Mix well and pour into the dish. 

Bake for 30 - 40 minutes until golden brown and just firm to the touch. 

Remove from the oven and pierce the surface all over with a knife. Preheat the grill to medium. Pour the remaining sauce over the top of the pudding. You might need to gently heat it for a minute if it has thickened too much. 

Place the pudding under the grill until bubbling (approximately 4 minutes). Keep an eye on it though, it can burn easily. 

Serve. Warm. Has to be warm. I always keep a little sauce to pour over the top as well. And some vanilla ice cream. 

Glorious STP. A pudding that makes you think you should eat it all afternoon. Please don't. We did, and we're still recovering. One or two, ah go on then three, slices should be just right. Enjoy x 

Update! Big congratulations to Sarah who won the glorious title of Great Irish Bake Off Champion for week 7. Woohoo! You can check out her decadent STP here.


  1. Looks delish! I hope you'll win the challenge. :-)

  2. Maybe I should have kept the stay in Castlemartry to trade for it!! ;-)