Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sitcky Toffee Pudding

So although we Americans call this a cake, apparently the Brits call this a pudding. So what you'll be seeing is a cake, not a bowl full of (American) Pudding.

This is a lovely cake made with stout beer and dates, and cinnamon and nutmeg, topped with a delicious butterscotch sauce and a dollop of tangy creme fraiche. For this post in particular I wish we had smell-o-vision, because holy hannah, this cake smells good. It smells spicy and warm and comforting, and of winter treats and roaring fires. This is the cake version of cuddling up on the couch with a warm comfy blanket and a good book.

sticky toffee "pudding"

February 26, 2011
Name of cake: The Cake Version of a Warm Blanket and a Fire
Occasion: HCB
Constituents: a spice-date-stout cake with a butterscotch sauce

I almost wish we were having dark gray stormy days to go along with this cake as it would be so fitting.

First up, this cake needs a cup of stout beer. Rose recommends Guinness, which is a great beer that I like pretty much only from the tap. This is the beer with which I chose to celebrate my 25-hour 21st birthday in Copenhagen, Denmark. If I recall properly, it was the first beer that I learned to enjoy. I was a few days short of 21 in St Petersburg, Russia with Raiuchka, Jenni, and our fearless leader Tim. We spent a week in St. Petersburg at the end of May 1994 and the city was gorgeous. Previously, we had spent a week in Moscow going through some serious culture shock. Previous to that, we had spent four months in Simferopol, Ukraine as pretty much the only Americans in the city. Moscow was loaded with American tourists and holy shit, we are freaking obnoxious. It was truly a shock.

sticky toffee "pudding"
This is not the Guinness you're looking for. And yes, those are the empty quail's egg shells from a couple of weeks ago in the background.  I don't have the heart to throw them out!

Anyway, in St. Petersburg we frequented the bar at a Western hotel, and there it was that Tim introduced us to Guinness. I can't remember if the bar was Irish themed or what, but that's what we drank. We flew out of Russia on my actual birthday, and since we flew west to Copenhagen we gained an hour. Raiuchka and I had planned to do some traveling around Europe--we were both meeting other people in a week or two and decided to travel around together first. Jenni had plans to go to Southern France pretty much right away, and Tim was flying back to the US the next morning. So in Copenhagen, Raiuchka, Tim and I met up at a bar not too far from the hotel we were in, and we hoped to drink the night away. I just turned 21! We were in Europe! We just left the former Soviet block! Laundromats! Drinking water right out of the tap! No spiders in the showers! So much to celebrate.

We drank Guinness and marveled at the prosperity west of the fallen Iron Curtain, and we didn't drink the night away. We were dog tired. But we drank Guinness.

My Guinness story doesn't extend into the baking of this warm spicy date cake, as I decided to pick a stout that was made closer to home. As in, a 5 minute drive from my apartment.

sticky toffee "pudding"

This is a huge bottle of beer. There's a half liter left over; do you know how much sticky toffee pudding we could make with a half liter?

The beer is brought to a boil, baking soda is added, and the liquid is poured over the dates and left to cool. What is the baking soda for? After cooling the dates and beer are pureed to a smooth paste.

sticky toffee "pudding"

This cake is different than most butter cakes in the book. Instead of using the two stage method to mix the cake, the more familiar creaming of the butter method is used. I don't think my butter creamed optimally as my cake was 1/4 inch short, and that's the only thing I can point to as the culprit.

sticky toffee "pudding"

The eggs are added, then the dry ingredients are added incrementally alternating with the date beer paste. This is all scraped into a 9x13 pan and baked for about half an hour.

sticky toffee "pudding"

In the meantime, the butterscotch is made. Dark brown muscovado sugar, a vanilla bean, and butter are brought to a boil. Cream, lemon juice and a pinch of salt are stirred in, and that's about it.

sticky toffee "pudding"
The silpat stuck to the top of the cake when I turned it out.  Jerk.

This cake is served warm, about 15 minutes after coming out of the oven. This just enhances the comforting and warm feeling the spices and butterscotch invoke. The cake is soft, the butterscotch a tad lemony but also deep and satisfying. The creme fraiche mellows out the sweetness of the caramel, and the toasted pecans give a nice crunch and almost a toasty savory quality. This is one of the times I feel all four components come together in a synergistic rush of pure, delicious, cakey joy.

sticky toffee "pudding"

sticky toffee "pudding"
check it out--you can see the cake reflected in the butterscotch, plus all the vanilla seeds

9 comments:

  1. I was just looking at the Banana Sticky Toffee Pudding Cake in Bon Appetite this month. Now, I find this one and I am torn.
    Banana vs. Beer
    Not really a hard decision is it?

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  2. I'm so loving your last picture... all that pool goodness... I love anything that is drenched in something...

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  3. Lovely story! Your cake looks fantastic. Good to know it's okay to use something other than Guinness.

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  4. Katya, did you make yours yet?

    Nicole, beer should win over banana almost every time.

    Monica, you would love this cake, then! I hope you'll get to it soon.

    Vicki, thanks! Yeah I figure any good, smooth, rich stout would work.

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  5. Mmmm. Does it actually taste like beer? I don't like beer, but it sounds intriguing anyway. I just discovered date syrup...I wonder how you could incorporate that into a cake. Surely, there must be a way. Any ideas?

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  6. Your blog is the most delicious torture! :)

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  7. Yes, the bar in Moscow was Irish-themed -- it was called Rosie O'Grady's! (How do I remember that, but I totally don't remember Tim being there in Copenhagen?) It's so funny that you mentioned the laundromat -- because I just got a new front-loading washer and dryer, and I stood there and watched the laundry go round and round, and thought of you, and laughed at myself. And I usually think of you and Tim and Jenni when I drink a Guinness, even though in the meantime I've been married for almost nine years to a bona fide Guinness drinker. :-)

    Your pudding looks rich and scrumptious. I loooove sticky toffee pudding. I would love to try this recipe.

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  8. oh raiuchka, your memory astounds me. how do you remember things like the name of the bar we went to in 1995? you are like an elephant, in all the best ways possible.

    tim was with us our very first night, then he hopped on a plane to the US the next day. the very same day you and i found the best laundromat in the world where we watched the clothes spin round like you did so very recently. (i used to do it all the time when i had a front loader!)

    i bet you would love the guinness out of this recipe. hey will you email me your mailing address--i've got something i've been wanting to send you! (i'll include this recipe.)

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