Sticky Toffee Cake

By Victoria Glass •

January and who's already tired of dieting? Victoria suggests an alternative to the New Year detox with an amazing cake to brighten up a wintry afternoon.  Based on the perfect British winter dessert - the sticky toffee pudding - why not indulge in a 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

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

To make the cake

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!


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

In the mood for more cake? Visit Great British Chefs baking recipes for more inspiration.

If you're going to blow a diet, what are some of your favourite cakes, puddings and desserts to indulge in?  Let us know over on Great British Chefs Facebook page.


Definitely going to make this BUT however much is "2 mugs of tea"??!! All my mugs vary in size and, in fact, those I mostly use are big enough to dive in. Safely! !
3 May 2015
This cake is delicious!
The only change I made was that I used less icing sugar in the buttercream (somewhere between just over 1/2 to 2/3 of what was suggested). It was still a completely buttercream texture but not quite as stiff or sweet (I did also add a little milk). The sticky toffee sauce in the buttercream made it beautiful!
A super-moist cake-I also used medjool dates. Rich, deliciously spiced and a deep flavour (due to the Muscovado sugar and black tea). I never would have thought to put black tea in a cake, but, in this recipe at least, it just works :)
Went down great with everyone who tried it. Some people were even asking if it had alcohol in it (it doesn't), it was so flavoursome!
Utterly delicious :)
21 April 2013

Victoria Glass

Victoria is a London based food writer. She founded Victoria's Cake Boutique in 2008 & her first two books, Boutique Wedding Cakes and Deliciously Vintage are out now. Her celebrity clients include Miranda Hart, Dave Gorman and Zach Braff. She's cooked her way through the alphabet from artichokes to za'atar zebra on her blog, Alphabet Soup. She is currently writing her fourth book and her third is out in September. She has just been appointed the food writer in residence at The Roald Dahl Museum & Story Centre.

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