Sticky Toffee Pudding and Visiting In-Laws

Sticky Toffee Pudding!  There that should give me a green light on SEO scale.  Why the sudden abrupt start?  Well, I’m figuring out the new plug ins to improve the SEO.  Apparently they recommend using the focus keyword right out of the gate.  Yeah, I won’t be making a habit out of that.  It seems the equivalent of a brass band starting this off.  And I don’t have the lurgy so I’m just trying it out once to see what happens. As for this plugin, the proof will be in the pudding.

Pudding you say?  Well let’s get on with the reason we’re here.  Food!

Treating the In-Laws:

As many of you know we’ve been working on redoing our bedroom.  We had a definite deadline as my in-laws arrived this week.  Down to the wire but they were pleased to know they had a guest room to stay in!  We always have fun when we get together and this weekend we start it off with glassblowing.  Thank goodness the weather has turned cool as it’s a very hot activity.  Hopefully we’ll get some hiking in but the remnants of Florence will be blowing through next week.  I really hope their holiday isn’t rained out.

My mum-in-law runs a B & B so she looks forward not to have to do anything in the kitchen.  I try to treat them with meals and good desserts. I picked sticky toffee pudding as it’s a traditional pud.  Turns out my mum-in-law has never had it as she tries to be good.  Ah well, it’s holiday!

I did research the recipe online and for the most part it’s straight forward and relatively the same.  Unless you are Martha Stewart.  She made it weird.  As I have the “Baking with Mary Berry” book I decided to use that.  But while I was at tax class I looked her recipe up online to double check my ingredients.  Wouldn’t you know it, they were two completely different recipes!  The book uses dates and the online used black treacle.  I mean, really.  I chose the book with a little variation.

The Technique for Sticky Toffee Pudding:

I decided to use the recipe with the dates as I love that fruit.  Her recipe calls for walnuts but enough of my family members really don’t like nuts in the baked goods so I just increased the dates called for.

Preheat the oven to 350F/180C

Coarsely chop the dates.

Instead of a cup of dates, I increased it to 1 1/2 cups of coarsely chopped dates to make up for the removal of the walnuts.

In the mixer, cream together 6 tablespoons of softened butter with 1 cup of lightly packed brown sugar.  Then add 2 beaten eggs with a tablespoon of coffee.  Mix well.

Now if you have access to self raising flour, use 1 1/2 cups of that.  If you don’t, take 1 1/2 cup of all purpose flour, add 2 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/2 a teaspoon of salt.  Gradually add this to the mixing bowl and again mix well.  A note on the flour.  There are times the flour can be really drying with the ingredients.  I’ve had trouble with it this week.  I’m not sure if the co-op changed vendors or what but unbeknownst to me it was affecting this dish.  More on that later.  Add the dates and 3/4 hot water (not boiling).

Lightly grease an 8″/20cm square baking pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.  Spoon the mixture into the pan.

Bake 45-50 minutes.  However, due to the flour issues, I should have checked it at 40 minutes.  But you get chatting and catching up and well, life happens.  Mine came out a little dry so thank goodness for the sauce.

Don’t do the sauce for the sticky toffee pudding until you are ready to serve.  If you do make it ahead of time, just microwave it to make it runny.

In a small saucepan add 9 tablespoons of butter (how isn’t Mary Berry massive) with 1 1/2 cups of brown sugar.  Heat on low-medium until the sugar is incorporated and dissolved in the butter.  Keep stirring so it doesn’t catch on the bottom.

Add 6 tablespoons of heavy/double cream.  Be careful doing this as it will sizzle and you don’t want to be splattered with hot sugar.  Also add a tablespoon of brandy.

The best part!

Not going to lie, I think the best part of sticky toffee pudding is the sauce.  I could just have a bowl of it.  I don’t think I could handle the full on sugar rush though!

Sticky Toffee Pudding

A delicious pudding with dates and a toffee sauce

Course Dessert
Servings 8 people
Author Our Growing Paynes

Ingredients

Cake

  • 6 tbsp butter, softened
  • 1 cup lightly packed brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tbsp coffee
  • 1 1/2 cups self rising flour
  • 1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped dates
  • 3/4 cup hot water

Sauce

  • 9 tbsp butter
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 6 tbsp heavy or double cream

Instructions

  1. To make the cake:

    Cream the butter and sugar together.  Add the eggs and mix well. Then add the coffee.

    Gradually add the flour until well blended.

    Add the dates and water.

    Bake at 350F/180C for 45-50 minutes in a lightly greased 8"/20cm square baking pan.  Line the bottom with parchment paper.

  2. To make the sauce:

    Melt the butter with the sugar until the sugar is dissolved.

    Carefully add the cream and brandy.

    Drizzle over the cake when serving.  

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Ale Chutney

One of the things I have on my list when we go home to England is getting a ploughman’s lunch at the Red Lion in Swanage.  It’s a pub that is still an English pub with the old beams, back garden, and amazing ciders on tap.  And they are willing to do their best at making a black velvet for me.  They also do a fabulous ploughman’s with ale chutney.  It’s one of my favourites.

As we’re getting into the season to make chutneys I thought I’d give it a go.  There really isn’t a lot of choice for ale chutney recipes but I figured I could make up my own.  It didn’t come out like the Red Lion’s but it came out really well with a bit more heat to mine.

Ale chutney 1 2014

Chop about 350 grams of onion and 300 grams of apples.  This equals about 3 apples.

Ale chutney 2 2014

Next chop 3 cloves of garlic, 60 g of dates, and 60 g of dried apricots.  In a large pot add the chopped ingredients with a 1/3-1/2 cup of malt vinegar and bring to a simmer.  As it begins to simmer add 1 heaped tbsp of mustard powder, 3 tsp of ground nutmeg, 1-2 tsp of sea salt, and pepper to taste.  Add 350-400g of demerara sugar or brown sugar and stir well.

Ale chutney 3 2014

As it simmers add the zest of one lemon as well as the juice.  For me I found it to be a bit sweet so I added 2 tsp of red pepper flakes to balance the sweetness.

Ale chutney 4 2014

Simmer until the apples have broken down and the chutney starts to thicken.  Remove from the heat and add 12 oz of ale or stout.  I used our oatmeal stout.  Bring it back up to a simmer to thicken. I found it wouldn’t thicken as much as I wanted so I added pectin rather than sugar which would make it sweeter.  The next time I make it I’ll back off a bit on the sugar and add more pectin.

Ale chutney 5 2014

The great things about chutneys is you make it your own.  Adjust as needed to your tastes.  Perfect!  Now I just need to make a ploughman’s.  🙂

PS, there must have been enough people disgruntled with the new wordpress site when writing posts as they are now giving people a choice to revert.  Excellent!  🙂

A Date Walked Into A Bar

The weather the past few days has been my kind of winter.  It’s above freezing and it’s melting the snow.  Yes!  Of course there is a ton of snow to go and it will be below freezing this week but progress is being made.  🙂

We’ve had some lovely days with nary a cloud in the sky.  Our seed trays are set up and the seedlings are showing up to be counted.  There are a few of us in the neighbourhood that have the grow lights going now.  We give off the impression that the munchies are on their way.  But no, the wildest thing we have growing is some spicy salad mix.

The kids are on school holiday this week so I have a feeling there will be several PJ days.  Yesterday I baked some date bars for the week to give them a bit of a treat.  My mum used to make these and every once in awhile they show up as a treat for us as well.  They don’t last long!  My son got hooked on them when my mum had him help bake them a few years ago.  My kind of tradition.

Pre-heat the oven to 375F/190C.

This is my mum’s recipe but I’m not sure where she got it from.  I did increase a few things as my baking pan was a bit bigger than what she called for.  In a small saucepan combine 8oz of chopped dates, 3/4 cup sugar, and 1 cup cold water.

Date bars 1 2014

Simmer until it has thickened stirring regularly so it doesn’t stick on the bottom.

Date bars 3 2014

While the dates are cooking combine in a large mixing bowl, 2 cups of quick oats, 1 cup sugar, 1 1/2 cup flour, 1 tsp baking soda.

Date bars 2 2014

Once the dates are ready melt 3/4 cups of butter and mix that in with the oats until it is evenly distributed.  Press half the mixture into an 8 x 11 pan.

Date bars 4 2014

Spread the date mixture over the oats.

Date bars 5 2014

Spread the rest of the oats over the dates and carefully tamp down without squishing the dates up through the oats.  Bake for about 25 minutes.

Date bars 8 2014

Try to let it cool.  🙂  The warmer it is the more flimsy the bars are and it gets a bit messy!

Date bars 9 2014

I should make these more often as they aren’t difficult but they taste wonderful.  🙂

So a side note:  I’ve noticed on a couple of my posts I’m getting a ton of spam messages.  I block, trash, and state they are spam but any advice on how to get it to stop?  It’s annoying.