Sticky Toffee Pudding Cake is a deliciously moist, date cake drenched in a warm butterscotch-toffee sauce. It's a classic and iconic British dessert popular in Scotland, England, and Ireland.
This classic British dessert is so good that when I made it for my mom she declared that it was her favorite thing I have ever made. It's rich, complex flavors and moist texture makes it a decadent dessert that is hard to beat.
If you have ever been to the Leaky Cauldron or the Three Broomsticks in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, you might have seen this dessert listed on the menu or tried the sticky toffee pudding ice cream at Florian Fortescue's Ice Cream Parlour in Diagon Alley.
When it comes to Harry Potter desserts, or authentic Irish dessert ideas for St. Patrick's Day, this Sticky Toffee Pudding Cake is my favorite! It's also perfect as an easy Christmas pudding if you want to celebrate Christmas in Victorian fashion!
What is sticky toffee pudding?
Sticky toffee pudding is a classic British dessert made with chopped dates and drenched in a homemade warm toffee sauce. The best sticky toffee pudding should be moist and sticky with a date sponge cake that is covered with rich toffee sauce.
In case you are confused, a "pudding" in Britain or the UK usually just means a cake or dessert, not a custard like most Americans think of when they hear the word pudding.
There are a lot of different approaches to making this moist, rich, sticky dessert. Some puddings are steamed, some contain treacle or golden syrup in the sauce, others have it in the cake itself, other versions include molasses, some call for white sugar, some for brown, nuts or no nuts, etc. and so forth!
My sticky toffee pudding recipe uses only ingredients that are readily available in the U.S.
The Best Sticky Toffee Pudding Recipe
If you are looking for the perfect dessert to serve on St. Patrick's Day, one that you might find in Ireland and not just something dyed green with food coloring, Sticky Toffee Pudding is delicious and the way to go!
You can bake the date cakes in individual ramekins, muffin tins, or even mugs, if you like. I have a couple of mugs that have dome-shaped bases that I thought would create a fun look for these cakes and they worked perfectly as ramekin stand-ins since they are essentially the same thing.
In fact, I ended up choosing the cakes made in the mugs for these photos because I liked how they were not as squat as the cakes made in the ramekins and had a fun, unique shape to them. I haven't tried using mugs as ramekin substitutes for Chocolate Molten Lava Cakes yet but I'm guessing they would work just as well there too!
Just make sure to divide your batter evenly between 6 similarly sized oven safe containers and pop them in the oven on a baking sheet.
Sticky Pudding Cake Ingredients
- Medjool dates - You might need to remove the pits yourself, which is easy to do by slicing the dates open and pulling out the hard center with your fingers, but often it's already done for you.
- Boiling water - This is for soaking and softening the dates.
- Baking soda
- Sugar - I use granulated sugar in the cake batter and brown sugar in the sticky toffee sauce.
- Vanilla extract
- Salted butter
- All-purpose flour
- Baking powder
- Heavy cream
How to make Sticky Toffee Pudding Cake
- Prep. Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees F and spraying 6 individual ramekins or oven-safe mugs with baking spray. You could also bake the cake in a square 8x8 pan or in muffin cups if you don't have ramekins or mugs that will work.
- Soak the dates. Combine the dates, boiling water, baking soda, and vanilla in a small food processor and pulse to chop the dates. Or you can just chop them on a cutting board and add them to a bowl with the other ingredients. Either way, let the dates soak for 15 minutes to soften before proceeding.
- Cream butter and sugar. Use an electric mixer to beat the softened butter and sugar in a large bowl for 2-3 minutes until fluffy and light. Add the eggs and be sure to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl.
- Add dry ingredients. Mix on low speed just until the flour, baking powder, and salt are combined with the butter mixture.
- Stir in dates. Add the soaked dates (water and all) to the flour mixture, folding them into the cake batter. Just be careful not to overmix the batter.
- Bake. Pour batter into the prepared ramekins or pan and bake for 18-22 minutes until done. A toothpick inserted into the center of each cake should come out clean with just a few crumbs. Definitely do not overbake. This can be done a day or two ahead and the individual puddings can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature until you are ready to serve.
How to make Toffee Sauce
- Melt butter and sugar. This is a lot like making caramel sauce. Just combine the brown sugar and butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook and stir until the butter and sugar melt together.
- Simmer. Lower heat to a simmer, then add the cream and salt. Continue to cook for about 5 minutes while stirring until the sauce thickens slightly.
- Plate. Place one sticky toffee pudding cake on each serving plate and pour some of the hot toffee sauce over it. It will soak into the cake and make it extra gooey. If you bake the cake in a square pan, you could poke holes in the top so even more of the sauce can soak in to the middle of the cake.
- Serve. I recommend serving these warm with extra toffee sauce on the side and a little drizzle of heavy cream over the top. But they are also delicious with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or the warm custard sauce from my Irish apple cake recipe.
Storing this Sticky Toffee Pudding Recipe
Uneaten sticky toffee pudding can be stored in an airtight container on the counter at room temperature whether you have already topped it with the toffee sauce or not. It will be good for up to 5 days. Unused toffee sauce can be kept in the refrigerator and warmed in the microwave or a small saucepan just before pouring it over the cakes.
Sticky Toffee Pudding Recipe FAQs
No, figgy pudding is made with figs while sticky toffee pudding is made with dates.
I'm sure there is debate about whether sticky toffee pudding is actually Scottish or English. It's popular in both countries though and you will see it on menus all over the UK if you are traveling there.
Personally I think it's better with a vanilla custard sauce or just straight cream, but you can't go wrong with a scoop of ice cream.
Many folks say that sticky toffee pudding is better the day after it is baked once it has had time to cool and the flavors have had a chance to meld. You can rewarm it in the oven or the microwave before serving.
I recommend using dried medjool dates, but you could also use fresh dates or even prunes for this recipe.
Make sure not to overbake these as part of the magic of a Sticky Toffee Pudding Cake is its, well, stickiness, not just from the sauce but the cake itself, and if you overbake it you will end up with dry, not-so-sticky cake, which will spoil the effect. Definitely err on the side of underbaking, rather than overbaking.
More UK-Inspired Recipes You'll Enjoy
- Irish Soda Bread
- Bangers and Mash with Onion Gravy
- Creamy Irish Leek and Potato Soup
- Dublin Coddle (One Pot Irish Potato, Sausage & Onion Stew)
- Irish Colcannon (Mashed Potatoes & Cabbage)
More Cake Recipes
- German Apple Cake with Streusel Topping (Apfelkuchen mit Streusel)
- Blueberry Sour Cream Coffee Cake
- Easy Rhubarb Breakfast Cake
Did you make this recipe?
Let me know what you thought with a comment and rating below. You can also take a picture and tag me on Instagram @houseofnasheats or share it on the Pinterest pin so I can see.
Sticky Toffee Pudding Recipe (with Toffee Sauce)
- 6 ounces pitted Medjool dates about 1 cup or 8-10 dates, chopped
- ¾ cup boiling water
- ¾ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 6 Tablespoons salted butter, softened
- 2 large large eggs
- 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup dark brown sugar, packed
- ½ cup salted butter
- ½ cup heavy whipping cream
- Pinch of coarse kosher salt
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray 6 individual ramekins or mugs or 9 cups of a muffin tin with cooking spray.
- Combine the chopped dates, boiling water, baking soda and vanilla in a bowl (or just put them together in a food processor to chop the dates) and let the dates soak for 15 minutes.
- In a separate bowl, combine the butter and sugar. Beat well using a mixer until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Add the eggs and mix well to combine.
- Add the flour, baking powder and salt and stir just until combined. Do not overmix.
- Fold in the dates and water just until combined, but do not overmix.
- Divide the batter evenly between the ramekins, mugs, or muffin cups, then bake for 18-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cake comes out clean and the top springs back at your touch. Don't overbake.
- In a medium saucepan, combine the brown sugar and butter over medium heat. Cook and stir until the butter and sugar melt together, then lower heat to a simmer add the cream and salt, stirring and cooking for 5 minutes until the sauce thickens slightly.
- To serve, place one cake on each serving plate and top with toffee sauce and a little cream or vanilla ice cream.