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Flame-cooked Sticky Toffee Pudding

Flame-cooked Sticky Toffee Pudding

Sticky toffee pudding is a quintessential British dessert. The people’s pudding. Simultaneously pub grub and a Michelin-star favourite that doesn’t discriminate. It’s sweet, gooey, and devilishly moreish.

The dessert’s origins are just as complex and murky as its lavish toffee sauce, but not as ancient as you might think. The place most associated with it is probably the tiny village of Cartmel in Cumbria, which champions the dessert, branding itself “The Home of Sticky Toffee Pudding,” but the townspeople don’t claim to have invented it. For that, Cumbria-based food writer Tess Baxter points to Francis Coulson of the Lake District’s Sharrow Bay Hotel, who published the supposed original recipe in the 1970s and coined it “icky sticky toffee pudding.”

A whole other claim (from Canada) suggests it was a maple syrup recipe from a pair of Canadian pilots (or a handwritten recipe from a solo aviator) that inspired Mr. Coulson’s sticky toffee sauce..

However it started, there’s no disputing its reputation as an end-of-meal closer worthy of a place in the culinary Hall of Fame. This is a dessert that sends everyone away from the table happy. That’s why we asked our Cornwall-based recipe developer Grant Batty (@grantbatty) to create an easy, delicious version that can be made in an Ooni pizza oven. His is a classic, no-nonsense, low-and-slow approach that’s easy to follow. Due to the low temperature it requires, this is a great way to use your oven as it cools down after a pizza-making session. As per tradition, dates are the featured ingredient, used to moisten and enrich the sponge with flavour without making it dense and heavy. Grant recommends serving the pudding warm, drowning in toffee sauce, and accompanied with a generous dollop of fresh clotted cream.

Watch the accompanying video for Grant’s step-by-step instructions.

Notes: this recipe is best suited for wood and charcoal cooking. To create the low temperature required to bake the pudding, it’s advised to use a charcoal bed and low flame. If you’re cooking with gas, preheat the oven on the lowest setting, then turn off the gas when you place the pudding inside and use the residual heat to cook it. Be sure to check the temperature first to ensure the oven isn’t too hot. If the temperature drops much below the recommended 320°F (160°C), return the flame to low and position the dish at the mouth of the oven.

1 hour total

Serves 6 as a dessert

Ooni pizza oven
Ooni Infrared Thermometer
12-inch (30 centimetre) enamel or metal baking dish

For the sauce
3.5 ounces (100 grams) unsalted butter
3.5 ounces (100 grams) golden caster sugar
3 tablespoons (45 grams) golden syrup
5 fluid ounces (150 millilitres) double cream
1 teaspoon (5 grams) vanilla extract
large pinch of sea salt

For the sponge
3.5 ounces (100 grams) unsalted butter
2.5 ounces (75 grams) golden caster (superfine) sugar
2.5 ounces (75 grams) dark muscovado sugar (or dark brown sugar)
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon (5 grams) vanilla extract
2 tablespoons (30 grams) golden syrup
5.5 ounces (150 grams) self-raising flour
8 fluid ounces (240 millilitres) water
5.5 ounces (150 grams) Medjool dates, stoned and roughly chopped
2 teaspoons (10 grams) bicarbonate of soda
Cornish clotted cream, to taste

First prepare the sauce. Place the butter, sugar, and golden syrup in a small pan over low heat, then heat until the sugar has completely dissolved. Once it begins to darken slightly, add the cream, vanilla extract, and salt, then Increase to medium heat. Simmer for 3 minutes. The toffee sauce will thicken, coating the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Next, prepare the sponge pudding. Fire up your oven, aiming for 320°F (160°C) on the stone baking board inside. Use an infrared thermometer to quickly and accurately check the temperature of the stone.

In a bowl, beat the butter and sugars together with a whisk or electric mixer until light and fluffy . Add the eggs, vanilla, and golden syrup, then whisk until combined. Add the flour and whisk again until combined.

Place the water and dates in a pan and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer for 3 minutes until the dates soften, then add the bicarbonate of soda and mix. Bicarbonate soda helps the pudding to rise and helps to break down the dates so they disperse evenly so they don’t sink to the bottom. Be careful, as the mixture will start to foam!

Add one-third of the date mixture to the sponge mix and fold in with a spatula. This will prevent the hot dates from curdling the sponge mix. Once combined, add the remaining date mixture and fold again.

Make sure your baking dish is buttered, then add the pudding mix. It will feel looser than a traditional sponge mix, but that’s okay; the excess moisture will evaporate in the heat of the oven.

Place in the oven and bake for 40 minutes, or until light and springy to the touch. Check the notes for guidance on heating your oven.

Remove the cooked sponge and pour half of the stick toffee sauce over the top, covering the sponge completely.

With a large serving spoon, serve a generous scoop of sponge with extra sticky toffee sauce and a healthy dollop of clotted cream.

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