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What Is Sticky Toffee Pudding?

Baking soda is used to make sticky toffee pudding.
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  • Written By: M.C. Huguelet
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 29 July 2014
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Sticky toffee pudding is a baked dessert consisting of a sponge cake which has been soaked in a rich toffee sauce. It is frequently eaten in countries such as England, where it is believed to have originated in the mid-20th century, as well as Ireland, Scotland, and Australia. Sticky toffee pudding has enjoyed sporadic popularity in the US, although American diners are sometimes confused by the fact that the dish does not conform to their definition of pudding. Preparing sticky toffee pudding involves three primary steps: baking a sponge cake, making toffee sauce, and finally, soaking the baked cake in the sauce.

It is generally believed that sticky toffee pudding was created in England around the mid-20th century. Beyond this very basic fact, however, the full story of the dessert’s origins is a subject of controversy, with several British towns and even individual restaurants laying claim to its invention. While its exact creation story may be lost to the ages, since emerging, sticky toffee pudding has established itself as a favorite dessert in England, in nearby countries Ireland and Scotland, and even in far-off nations like Australia.

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The dessert has also enjoyed sporadic popularity in the US, perhaps due either to the presence of British chefs in the country or to the exposure of Americans to the dish during foreign travel. Many Americans find themselves confused, however, by the fact that sticky toffee pudding does not conform to their definition of pudding, which is generally limited to creamy, custard-like desserts. This incongruity is explained by the fact that individuals in the United Kingdom tend to use the word “pudding” as an umbrella term which can refer to any type of dessert, regardless of its form or consistency.

Preparing sticky toffee pudding involves three primary steps: first, a sponge cake is made by mixing together softened dates, baking soda, flour, eggs, butter, and brown sugar. While the cake bakes, toffee sauce is prepared by simmering butter, sugar, and cream on the stovetop. Some cooks opt to tweak the flavor of the dish during these steps by adding flavorings such as vanilla or orange zest to either the cake mix or the sauce. Once the cake has finished baking, it is pierced with a skewer or fork and then soaked in the toffee sauce. Finally, the soaked cake in inverted onto a platter and served with additional toffee sauce as well as cream or ice cream.

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