Easy Sticky-Toffee Dessert

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

This draws on the culinary technology of the surprise dessert—that amazing affair by which, on baking, a layer of cake is formed, under which evolves a thick and luscious sauce—while playing with the flavors of a traditional sticky-toffee pudding. True, if you’re feeding 12 people you’ll need to make two, but given how almost provocatively easy it is, that’s no big deal. I can see this stretching to 8, maybe even a little bit beyond, but I wouldn’t want to ask much more of it. Better to have too much than give rise to even the slightest tremor of ration-anxiety at the table. Never Knowingly Undercatered, that’s me.


Cooking Methodbaking



Total Timeunder 2 hours

OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Cooking for a date, Family Get-together

Recipe Coursedessert

Dietary Considerationpeanut free, tree nut free

Mealsnack, tea

Moodblue, stressed

Taste and Texturerich, sweet

Type of Dishcake, dessert, pudding


  • Scant 1/3 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons self-rising flour
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
  • ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons chopped, rolled dates
  • ¾ cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • approx. 2 tablespoons unsalted butter in little blobs
  • 2¼ cups boiling water


  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F and butter a 1½-quart capacity baking dish.

  2. Combine the sugar with the flour in a large bowl. Pour the milk into a measuring cup, beat in the egg, vanilla and melted butter and then pour this mixture over the sugar and flour, stirring—just with a wooden spoon—to combine. Fold in the dates then scrape into the prepared baking dish. Don’t worry if it doesn’t look very full: it will do by the time it cooks.

  3. Sprinkle over the sugar for the sauce and dot with the butter. Pour over the boiling water (yes really!) and transfer to the oven. Set the timer for 45 minutes, though you might find the dessert needs 5 or 10 minutes more. The top of the dessert should be springy and spongy when it’s cooked; underneath, the butter, dark brown sugar and boiling water will have turned into a rich, sticky sauce. Serve with vanilla ice cream, crème fraîche or heavy or light cream as you wish.


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I love Nigella, but this was a disaster and ended up in the bin rather than on the dinner table. Im not sure if it was me or the recipe however it tasted very odd and looked even worse. Better off trying a different recipe if your after a sticky date/toffee pudding

No, Nigella -- just no. It takes a lot for me to throw out a dessert, but this was not good. Not inedible, just not good. Hard to think one could go wrong with a pile of butter, sugar, and flour, but somehow she managed to turn them into an insipid, wallpaper-pasty, stodgy mess.


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