Return to the home of Sticky Toffee Pudding

August 8, 2009 § 5 Comments

Our good friends Simon and Penny were over from Hong Kong for a couple of weeks in August and threw a small party at their house in the Lake District, Ormathwaite Hall on a Saturday 8 August.  I offered to bring Sticky Toffee Pudding as my contribution to the catering.

The meal began with plenty of champagne – Simon is a very generous host – accompanied by crudites and dips.  Another friend and excellent cook Shelley had prepared a delicious lamb tagine served with couscous.

My sticky toffee pudding with served with extra sticky toffee sauce and ice cream finished things off pretty well and guest numbers being larger than anticipated, it was served in mercifully tiny portions – just right to finish off the meal.

The prepared pudding is shown below fresh out of the oven at home.  It is very easy to transport, doesn’t need refrigeration and reheats beautifully so is a perfect choice for taking to a party in advance.


Sticky Toffee Pudding can be found on menus all over the Lake District, from where it originates, and indeed all over the UK  and beyond all year round.  Jane Grigson is one of my favourite food writers and is a consistently reliable source of information.  In her book “English Food” she reminds us that Sticky Toffee Pudding is by no means an ancient traditional English pudding but was devised by Francis Coulson who opened the Sharrow Bay Hotel in Ullswater in 1948. The Sharrow Bay can lay claim to being the first country house hotel and Francis Coulson’s recipes are generous in their use of butter and cream: his sticky toffee pudding recipe is no exception.

The recipe I use comes from one of chef/Lake District hotel proprietor  John Tovey’s books with one modification of my own – the use of soft fudgy Medjool dates rather than ordinary ones.  The grated orange zest in the sauce really lifts the flavour in a subtle way and cuts through the sugar and syrup. I’m afraid I don’t know which of John Tovey’s books it comes from – my copy of the recipe was dictated to me over the phone by my mum some years ago so all I have is a list of ingredients and brief manuscript notes in my personal recipe book.

Recipe for Sticky Toffee Pudding


For the pudding

4 oz butter
6 oz soft brown sugar
4 eggs
8 oz sr flour
8 oz Medjool dates
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tbsp camp coffee essence
10 fl oz boiling water

For the topping

2 tbsp double cream
3 oz soft brown sugar
2 oz butter

For the sauce

8 oz golden syrup
few drops vanilla essence
2 oz butter
2 oz soft brown sugar
Grated rind of 2 oranges
2 tbsp double cream (optional)

9”-10” lined square tin; 180C 350F

Cream the butter and sugar together, then beat in the eggs.  Fold in the flour sifted with the bicarbonate of soda.  Add the dates.  Dissolve the coffee essence in the boiling water and pour into the mixture.  Beat until mixed.  Pour into the tin and bake for 1 ½ hours.

To make the topping, combine the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to the boil.  Pour over the cooked pudding and brown under a hot grill.

To make the sauce, melt all the ingredients together in a small saucepan.  Serve with chilled pouring cream or vanilla ice cream as well as the toffee sauce.

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§ 5 Responses to Return to the home of Sticky Toffee Pudding

  • Kristen says:

    When you say brown sugar, you are referring to muscavado/turbinado sugar right?

    • Jennifer Raffle says:

      Hi Kristen actually the recipe says soft brown sugar which is something commonly found in the UK. It’s a very fine grained moist unrefined sugar not too dark. Muscovado is probably to treacly whereas I think turbinado is the equivalent of UK demerara sugar which is too coarse. Maybe try half and half muscovado and white caster sugar. Good luck with the recipe – do give it a try and let me know how it goes. Sticky Toffee Pudding has become a classic throughout the UK and I’ve even seen it on display in Parisian patisseries as the last word in chic!

  • […] I was pleased to hear Jane Grigson’s English Food quoted, and also to have my previous assertion about the origins of Sticky Toffee Pudding corroborated. You can read about it in  my post […]

  • Richard says:

    I´m sure that recipe works well but the sauce is not as described in Grigson´s book. (From memory) her recipe doesn´t use any orange peel nor golden syrup. We don´t have golden syrup in Denmark so I would have noticed if the recipe called for it.
    Also, there´s no Camp coffee essence in the sponge part. Again, this is not a product in sale in Denmark -I´d have noticed that too. Why would you add to the recipe when it´s perfect as it is?

    • Hi Richard thanks for reading and commenting. The recipe I use comes from chef John Tovey’s book, it’s not the Jane Grigson/Francis Coulson original one bu it’s the one my mother used and passed on to me so it’s one I’ve stuck with over the years and yes it does work well.

      Looking at John Tovey’s bio before he set up the Miller Howe he worked for 6 weeks at Francis Coulson’s Sharrow Bay Hotel and may well have nicked a few recipes from there. He’s the one who added the syrup, orange zest and Camp coffee essence to the recipe so sadly I can’t claim credit for these additions.

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