I tried. I really did. I went to the gym first thing in the hopes of having endorphins help me out. I made a good breakfast: spinach sauteed in garlic and olive oil, egg cracked on top then sprinkled with feta accompanied by multigrain toast and strong coffee. We took the kids to see a planetarium show about the stars in ancient Egypt. I even wore the cheerful socks my sister gave me for Christmas:
But no go. Gloom still permeated the air. I decided it was time for some Sticky Toffee Pudding Therapy. Brian has never had Sticky Toffee Pudding which was everywhere you turned in England when I was there one winter in the early '90s. I figure that the English know something about gloom and how to treat it. Bring on the toffee!
It helps that it is a pretty simple recipe. The only "specialized" ingredient is the heavy cream for the caramel sauce. I made it in a loaf pan because as I accurately predicted, my freaky kids wouldn't eat it, so I halved the recipe (which would normally make an 8 inch square steamed pudding).
Sticky Toffee Pudding Cake
serves 4-6 people, depending on gloom levels
adapted from Cook's Illustrated
2 T butter melted
1/2 C plus 2 T unbleached all purpose flour
4 oz whole pitted dates, cut into 1/4 inch dice
a little less than a 1/2 C warm water
1/4 t baking soda
1/4 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
a little less than 1/2 C of dark brown sugar
1 t vanilla
2 T butter
1/2 C packed dark brown sugar
1/4 t salt
1/2 C heavy cream
- Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour a 4x8 inch loaf pan.
- Combine half of the dates with the warm water and baking soda and soak for 5 minutes.
- Whisk flour, baking powder and salt together in a medium bowl.
- Bring a kettle of water to boil.
- Process other half of the dates and the brown sugar in a food processor until it looks like damp sand, 45 seconds. Drain soaked dates--save the liquid, but set the dates aside. Add soaking liquid to the food processor. Add egg, vanilla and melted butter and process until smooth, 15 seconds.
- Plop wet stuff from food processor on top of the dry stuff in your bowl and sprinkle the softened dates on top.
- With a spatula, fold wet into dry until just combined and date pieces are distributed. Spread batter into prepared loaf pan. Put loaf pan in a bigger pan and pour boiling water in the bigger pan until it is about 1/4 inch deep. Cover the whole thing tightly with aluminum foil so the pudding cake will steam inside.
- Bake for 40 minutes until puffed and springy.
- Flip cake out onto serving platter.
- Take a toothpick and stab holes in it for the toffee sauce to seep into (very therapeutic!) Spread about 1/4 of the sauce and let soak in. Do it again.
- Cut into squares (or rectangles) and top each serving with more toffee sauce.
- Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in brown sugar and salt until smooth. Continue to cook until sugar is dissolved and slightly darkened, whisk occasionally (about 4 minutes).
- Add 1/4 C cream and stir until smooth. Pour in remaining cream and whisk. Reduce heat to low and simmer until frothy, about 3 minutes.