Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Love That Golden Syrup

April 23rd is England’s neglected national day, St George’s Day. When I saw that Sam of Becks and Posh was hosting a one-off event called Fish and Quips, just the title drew my interest. The theme of showcasing good British cooking is a winner.

Along with things like the traditional Afternoon (not High) Tea, with its cucumber tea sandwiches, small tarts, and rich scones slathered with clotted cream and jam, other sweet foods came to mind. There is the classic Victoria Cake, with sponge cake, jam and whipped cream, and the traditional trifle with sponge cake, jam, brandy, custard and whipped cream. (Are we seeing a pattern here?) Well, one thing is for certain, the Brits know a thing or two about sweets.

Originally I was looking for a recipe for Spotted Dick, a steamed pudding mentioned often in the O'Brian novels about Captain Aubrey and Dr. Maturin during the Napoleonic Wars. It seems to be a favorite dessert. Unfortunately, once I found the recipe, it sounded too sweet for even my overdeveloped sweet tooth.

Then I remembered a dish I enjoyed at a Father's Day meal years ago at Doce Lunas Restaurant east of Santa Rosa. It was Sticky Toffee Pudding, a sponge pudding that has a lot of dates in it, along with molasses and Golden Syrup. Well, the Golden Syrup in the recipe decided it. Golden Syrup is a golden pure cane syrup and is a British treasure. I also bake Anzac cookies using this lovely syrup as a key ingredient.

The pudding itself is moist, sweet and mellow. The sauce that goes with it is a sort of caramel sauce and it uses more of the Golden Syrup. The brand I use is called Lyles and it can sometimes be found in the market with other British imports. I combined elements from three different recipes. One had the size pan I wanted to use, another used the Golden Syrup, and another used some molasses, too. I don't know of a good substitute for Golden Syrup if you can't find it. Karo dark is nothing like it, although it might be the closest regular American grocery item.

Sticky Toffee Pudding

Serves 4-6
For the Pudding:

5 oz. dates, pits removed, chopped

1 cup hot water

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) butter, softened

1/4 cup brown sugar, packed

2 tablespoons molasses

1 tablespoon golden syrup

2 eggs

1/2 cup, plus 1 tablespoon, self-rising flour

For the toffee sauce:

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 tablespoon golden syrup

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Butter an 8-inch square cake pan.

Heat the water in a small pot, add the chopped dates and the baking soda. Let stand while you prepare the butter, sugar, egg mixture.

Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. I use an electric stand mixer.

Add the molasses, golden syrup and mix well. Scrape the bowl and beaters.

Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix well.

Add the flour on low speed, then increase to medium to combine. Add the dates mixture and mix well. The mixture will be somewhat thin and curdled looking. That's OK.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Place into the oven and bake 35-40 minutes, or until cooked through. Top will be springly when touched.

To make the sauce, melt the butter in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the brown sugar and golden syrup. Mix well. Add the whipping cream and mix to thoroughly combine. Simmer for five to ten minutes to thicken slightly.

To serve, spoon out a portion of the pudding into a shallow bowl and pour over some of the hot toffee sauce.


  1. What a delicious recipe! I wish I could dip a spoon into that photo right now. ;)

  2. I always see recipes that call for golden syrup but I never see it here. I generally substitute corn syrup, but I don't think it's the same.

  3. Anonymous10:01 AM

    Hi Elle! You can't go wrong with Lyle's Golden Syrup... This pudding looks delightfully sweet and sticky!

  4. Anonymous12:49 PM

    I have never had anything like that, but my mouth is watering. Delicious!

  5. Your sticky toffee pudding looks WAY BETTER than the attempt I made a few months ago (damn that Nigella) - I'm going to try your recipe because....

    Morv has sent me golden syrup! I'm so excited! And I promised her I'd make something with it while she's on vacation.. guess I know what I'm making, eh? =)))

  6. patricia, sorry, Sweeetie ate the rest this morning for breakfast as was a happy man.

    brilynn, it's not the same. give me your address via clachman at ix dot netcom dot com and I'll mail you a jar. you would love it! i'd love to see what you made with are so creative.

    gilly, it IS great stuff, isn't it, very sticky.

    kristen, i'd send you some if it traveled well.

    lis, thank you. had fun figuring out the recipe. tell me how it works for you, but no bill if it's a dud, OK? :)

  7. Yep, it's all about the Lyle's. I could eat the stuff with a spoon. Sigh.

  8. God how I love sticky toffee pudding. One of the few scottish cuisine I gladly eat.

  9. I love sticky toffee pudding! This recipe is a little differnt to the one I used yesterday (Jamie Oliver which has no golden syrup in it). I am going to have to try your version too. I do't think anyone knows the true origin of this dessert but Wikipedia sggests it is ENglish not Scottish, either way I am certain it is British.

    Thanks for taking part in Fish & Quips


  10. Great recipe. The first time I had sticky toffee pudding I was a little do the Brits manage such a sweet tooth! But now it's become a favorite in our house, especially with my husband.

  11. Claudia, yes, it's great stuff.

    Peabody, yes, love the toffee pudding, too, even if it's sweet enough to give you ADD. Not sure it's Scottish, but could be.

    CC, glad you stopped by. My husband almost scraped teh design off the plate he like it so much.

  12. Sam,
    Glad to take part in such a fun event. Yaaa for British food.

  13. Vicki9:33 PM

    Thanks for this wonderful recipe. It turned out beautifully - the pudding was light and fluffy, and the sauce perfect.

  14. Vicki, So glad that you enjoyed the recipe. It really is a delicious sauce and the pudding, while super sweet, is moist and comforting.