If you’ve never had sticky toffee pudding cake, what are you waiting for? A super moist date cake is smothered in a buttery, sweet, toffee sauce and drizzled with a touch of cream. Beautiful and delicious!

It’s easy to get confused by the name of this recipe, but contrary to what it sounds like, sticky toffee pudding is actually one of the best cakes around.

This is an oft-requested cake for family birthdays; we all look forward to it!

A small cake on a white plate, with sticky toffee sauce being poured over the top.

What is Sticky Toffee Pudding?

In a nutshell, Sticky Toffee Pudding is a British dessert classic.

A super tender cake, notably made with dates, is smothered in a silky toffee sauce, pecans (optional!), and drizzled with just a touch of cream.

You can leave it simple, of course…just that toffee sauce soaking into the perfectly sweet, delicious cake.

But adding a little spoonful of cream makes this already amazing cake absolutely magical.

A small, brown cake on a white plate, with light brown sticky toffee sauce being poured over the top.

An Authentic Recipe

My friend, Sarah (from England), passed along this recipe to me. She’s a self-proclaimed Sticky Toffee Pudding expert and is the one who tipped me off that many British admirers of Sticky Toffee Pudding add the cream.

Of course, in the interest of staying authentic, I had to do the same.

Delicious. Oh my goodness, delicious.

I’ll leave it up to you whether to add the pecans. The addition of nuts in desserts is quite polarizing – I’ll just say, use your own free choice, and I promise all will be well.

A small, brown cake covered in a light brown sticky toffee sauce.

Baking Options: Pan or Ramekins

In the details of the recipe, you’ll note that the cakes can be baked in individual ramekins for a truly elegant presentation.

However, the cake also easily transitions to an 8X8- or 9X9-inch baking pan.

Cut into squares and drizzled with the same delicious buttery, toffee sauce (and that cream!), it tastes the same whether baked in individual ramekins or in one larger pan.

A piece of cake with light brown sauce and cream around and top of the cake.

Let’s Talk about Dates

Soaked dates are used in the cake batter for sticky toffee pudding. That may seem unusual, but the dates add a delicious sweetness and texture to the cake to make it a classic.

I use soft medjool dates for this cake.

Finely chopping the dates and allowing them to soak briefly in the boiling water + baking soda + vanilla is important to the success of this recipe.

A small brown cake, with a bite taken out, covered with sticky toffee sauce and cream on a white plate.

Sticky toffee pudding is one of those desserts that is so easy to make (with lots of make-ahead steps!), and it is completely impressive in presentation and taste.

As appropriate as this dessert is for an elegant holiday table, I have to confess, we’ve taken to making it for our Sunday dessert more often than not. I think Brian officially declared it in his top 5 favorite desserts of all time.

How can I argue with that? Especially when it is so simple.

There’s just something about it that is homey and comforting and at the same time over-the-top delicious. It’s a winner.

A small brown cake, with a bite taken out, covered with sticky toffee sauce and cream on a white plate.

One Year Ago: Sparkling Cranberry Apple Cider Punch
Two Years Ago: Chocolate Pudding Pretzel Pie
Three Years Ago: Orange Zested Cranberry White Chocolate Bliss Bars {A Slightly Lighter Version}

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Sticky Toffee Pudding Cake

4.56 stars (373 ratings)

Ingredients

Cake:

  • 6 ounces (170 g) dates, pitted and finely chopped (about 8-10 medjool dates)
  • ¾ cup boiling water
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup (159 g) granulated sugar
  • 6 tablespoons (85 g) butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 ¼ cup (178 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Sauce:

  • ¾ cup (159 g) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • ½ cup (113 g) butter
  • ½ cup heavy whipping cream
  • Pinch of coarse, kosher salt
  • ¼ to ½ cup chopped pecans, optional
  • Additional heavy whipping cream for drizzling, optional

Instructions 

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease 6 to 8 ramekins (about 6 ounces each) with butter or cooking spray or lightly grease an 8X8- or 9X9-inch pan.
  • For the cake, in a medium bowl, stir together the dates, boiling water, baking soda and vanilla extract (see note for alternate method). Let the mixture sit for 15 minutes.
  • In a separate medium bowl, cream together the granulated sugar and butter with an electric mixer (handheld or stand mixer) until well-combined and fluffy, 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the eggs and mix.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
  • Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients, and mix until just combined.
  • Fold in the date mixture (no need to drain) until combined; don’t overmix.
  • Fill the ramekins evenly with the batter, about 2/3 full, or spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan.
  • Bake the ramekins for 18-22 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the top springs back to the touch (if using a square baking pan, bake for 22-25 minutes UPDATE: increase baking time as needed, some have needed upwards of 40 minutes). Don’t overbake or the cake may be dry.
  • Let the cakes cool completely in the pan(s) – although the cake can be served slightly warm also.
  • For the sauce, combine the sugar, butter, cream, and salt in a saucepan. Stir over low heat until the sugar dissolves and the sauce is smooth and combined, 5-7 minutes.
  • If the cake was baked in ramekins, turn out onto individual plates (if baked in a pan, cut the cake into squares). Pour the warm sauce over the individual servings, and sprinkle with pecans, if using; drizzle with a teaspoon or so of heavy cream, also optional but terribly delicious.

Notes

Dates: let’s talk dates for a second. I use large Medjool dates for this cake (visual here, although I’ve bought them mostly at Costco). Simply dig your fingers in and pull out the pit before chopping. They are sticky and sweet – chopping may seem a pain, but power through it. For a slightly easier option, consider combining the whole dates, boiling water, baking soda and vanilla in a blender or food processor and lightly pulsing to chop the dates and combine.
Make Ahead: the cake(s) can be made ahead, baked and frozen up to a month (or a day ahead of time – cover well overnight). Thaw and lightly warm the cake before serving. The sauce can also be made 1-2 weeks ahead of time and refrigerated. Warm lightly before serving.
Doubling and Pan Size: I haven’t tried it yet, but I believe this recipe would do well baked in a 9X13-inch pan – instead of doubling, I’d probably 1 1/2 the recipe (unless you want an ultra-thick cake…then try doubling).
Serving: 1 serving, Calories: 475kcal, Carbohydrates: 71g, Protein: 5g, Fat: 21g, Saturated Fat: 11g, Cholesterol: 92mg, Sodium: 359mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 52g
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Recipe Source: adapted a little from a recipe sent to me by Sarah W. (by way of Delia Smith)