Sticky toffee cake

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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?

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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

  • 400g of dates
  • 480ml of tea, black and fairly weak
  • 200g of light muscovado sugar
  • 50g of 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 of golden syrup
  • 4 large eggs
  • 200g of unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 tsp mixed spice, heaped
  • vanilla extract, a generous splash
  • 350g of self-raising flour
  • 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 pinch of salt

Sticky toffee sauce

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


  • 200g of unsalted butter, soft (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 of icing sugar
  • 1 dash of milk, if needed


Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4. Grease and line two 9-inch sandwich tins
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 35-40 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 (saving half for the buttercream). 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

Victoria is a London-based food writer and recipe developer. She was the Roald Dahl Museum’s first ever Gastronomic Writer in Residence and has written six books, including her latest, Too Good To Waste.

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