Thursday, 17 January 2013

Sticky toffee cake

Sticky toffee cake

So, January. Here we go again. The time of year when gym memberships go up and the diet police come out, full-throttle, wiggling about in leotards and wagging their bony fingers at us, stirring up shame and dishing up huge dollops of self-disgust.  I’m tired of them spoiling the whole of January by making us regret our festive right to have a merry and indulgent Christmas. All these guilt-inducing fad diets only send me, weeping, into the arms of the biscuit barrel.

Based on the most perfect British winter dessert - the sticky toffee pudding - this cake is basically an up yours to the January detox. Rich and sweet, without being sickly, sticky toffee cake will brighten up a wintry afternoon in no time. It has the added bonus of not requiring you to remember to take the butter out of the fridge to come up to room temperature before you put your pinny on. And it has dates in, so it’s practically one of your five-a-day.

Sticky Toffee Cake

Slice of sticky toffee cake

Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan)/350°F (325°F fan)/ Gas Mark 4. Grease and line two 9-inch sandwich tins.

For the cake

400g dates, stoned and roughly chopped (I used medjool)
2 mugs of fairly weak black tea
200g light muscovado sugar
50g dark muscovado sugar (this gives it more depth, but you can substitute it for more light if you don’t want to mess about with two sugars)
2 tbsp golden syrup
4 large eggs
200g unsalted butter, melted
3 heaped teaspoons of mixed spice
A generous splash of vanilla extract
350g self raising flour
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
A pinch of salt

For the sticky toffee sauce

100g light muscovado sugar
50g dark muscovado sugar (or more light)
30g butter
2 tbsp golden syrup
A generous splash of vanilla extract
A pinch of salt
125ml double cream or condensed milk

For the buttercream

200g soft, unsalted butter (take it out of the fridge when you start making the cake, so it’ll be soft by the time you make the icing)
400g icing sugar
Half the cold sticky toffee sauce
A splash of milk, if needed

Place the dates in a saucepan with the tea and bring to the boil, then turn the heat down and leave to simmer for 5 minutes. You can, if you wish, blitz the dates and tea in a blender at this stage, for a smoother texture to your final cake, but it’s by no means essential.Whisk the eggs, sugars and syrup together until pale and fluffy.  Gradually whisk in the melted butter.   Fold in the dates and vanilla. Sift all the dry ingredients over the top of the wet and fold together with a large metal spoon. Be careful not to knock the air out of the mixture.  

Divide between the two tins and pop into the oven for around 35 to 40 minutes, or until an inserted skewer comes out clean.  While the cake is baking, make the toffee sauce. Place all the ingredients, except for the cream, into a saucepan and stir over a gentle heat until all the sugar has dissolved.  Bring to a rolling boil, before stirring in the cream.  Prick the tops of your baked cakes all over with a skewer or cocktail stick before drizzling a generous amount of the toffee sauce over each cake.  Leave the cakes to cool completely in their tins on top of a cooling rack, before turning out.

To make the buttercream, simply whisk the butter until creamy and sift over and whisk in half of the icing sugar, before doing the same again with the second half (this stops it flying out of your bowl and covering your kitchen in icing sugar). Add the rest of the cold toffee sauce, reserving a couple of spoons’ worth to drizzle over the top, and whisk in. If the buttercream is too stiff, whisk in a little milk to slacken it slightly.  Sandwich the cakes together with half of the buttercream and spread the remaining on the top, before drizzling over the reserved toffee sauce.  Enjoy!

Sticky toffee close up.

TOP TIP: You can halve the ingredients for 6-inch sandwich tins (reduce the baking time to 25 - 30 mins) or a 2lb loaf tin.

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