sticky toffee pudding; reinvented.

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my last post on a sticky toffee pudding almost resigned to the idea that perfection had been attained. i say perfection because the recipe was from a site gloating in how-to-cook-the-perfect-everything. while there was a time i believed everything had to have a perfect version to it, with time also came wisdom to know the difference between perfection and excellence thereby paving way for pursuit of excellence instead.  so while perfection may not be attainable, we might just catch excellence along the way. i probably got you thinking why all the talk about perfection vs. excellence. it’s only because while i thought i had almost aced a good sticky toffee pudding, i realized i had bettered it with this.

ingredients

  • 225 grams wet dates (such as medjool), pitted and finely chopped
  • 1 cup (250 milliliters) hot coffee (1 cup boiling water mixed with 1-2 teaspoons of instant espresso powder)
  • 1 1/2 (225 grams cup all purpose flour)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 85 grams unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup (125 grams soft dark brown sugar)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

toffee sauce

  • 1/2 cup (125 grams unsalted butter)
  • 1 cup (170 grams soft dark brown sugar)
  • 3/4 cup (190 milliliters) heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

instructions

  1. preheat the oven to 350 F and line a 9-inch pan with butter (a 9 inch square pan is fine too).
  2. in a small bowl, stir together the chopped dates and coffee and set aside. the coffee adds a nice level of depth to the cake, and you can barely taste it. but if you would prefer, use hot water instead. set aside.
  3. in another bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt, then set aside.
  4. cream the butter and brown sugar together until creamy and light. you can use any kind of brown sugar you like. i prefer dark muscovado because it has a deep, richer flavor.
  5. gradually add in the eggs and vanilla and beat for several minutes.
  6. stir in 1/2 of the flour mixture, followed by the date mixture, followed by the rest of the flour mixture.
  7. pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 25-30 min or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  8. pierce the cake multiple times using a skewer or chopstick. this ensures that the cake will absorb all of the toffee sauce.
  9. to prepare the toffee sauce, combine the butter, brown sugar and cream in a saucepan over medium heat.
  10. stir the mixture constantly until it melts and bring it to a boil. reduce the flame to medium-low and boil for around 5 minutes until the mixture thickens.
  11. add the salt, and you can also add 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract should you wish.
  12. pour the toffee sauce over the cake, reserving 1/2 cup for topping.

the pudding has a moist soft sponge-y texture and is delicious to say the least. the toffee sauce has a deep, rich flavour making the pudding incomplete without it. i like to serve my pudding with a generous drizzle of toffee sauce before warming it in short bursts in a microwave oven. it must be served warm, with a scoop of good old plain vanilla icecream, if you must. you may think this to be a rather sickishly saccharine dessert but it isn’t exceedingly so. the sauce keeps well in the refrigerator. so does the pudding. this makes a great winter dessert or one for a dark wet june monsoon afternoon. or a grey august melancholic monsoon night. you don’t really need a reason. gratifying, comforting, indulgent; my idea of hygge.

here’s a video of how-to, just in case. the recipe can also be found on the Martha Stewart site.

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chocolate fudge bundt cake

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i remember my first bake implement purchase. like all first-things, it was special. it was at a time i knew little of baking or baking implements. when i could not tell what a springform or pushpan meant, when i could not be bothered about bake pan dimensions. and so i happened to pick a bundt pan. it looked fancy, i had no idea what would follow. i remember bringing it home and now that i had one, being motivated to bake. i picked a simple vanilla and chocolate marble cake recipe. i did not line the tin almost assuming my cake to slide off its nonstick slick surface when finished. i remember struggling to get the hot cake off in one piece, which to no surprise came off in pieces of assorted shape and size, with the bottom, burnt and stuck to the pan. i remember thinking what an oddly shaped cake the pan made, not knowing it was an upside down pan. and the rest is history.

so treasured as it were, the bundt pan found its place at the back of my store cupboard not wanting to make an appearance for long. until many years today when i felt nostalgic wanting to bake a bundt cake, this time for real, with having gained the necessary expertise a home baker ought to. and so, it happened. i chose a chocolate fudge bundt cake recipe from king arthur flour. the cake baked beautifully and came out marvelously in one piece. if it helps to know, i prepared the pan with a coating of vegetable oil followed by a dusting of cocoa powder.

coming to the cake now, this seemingly simple recipe makes for a surprisingly sophisticated cake with its dome shape and a ganache for its crown. i did not make the ganache though, i thought the cake was good even without it. this cake is incredibly moist and fudgey from the yogurt and tastes even better on the second day, that’s if it lasts that long. it keeps well too in an airtight container. it has just the right amount of chocolate to it though i now think that the ganache may have just accentuated the flavor a bit more.

i’m looking forward to putting my bundt pan on centre stage now on. it made for a good purchase after all.

ingredients

  • 1 cup brewed coffee
  • 1 cup / 225g unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, dutch-processed cocoa preferred
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup sour cream or yogurt (regular or Greek), full-fat preferred

instructions

  1. preheat the oven to 350°F / 180degC
  2. to make the cake: place the coffee, butter, and cocoa in a small saucepan or microwave-safe bowl. heat, stirring, until the butter melts. remove from the heat, and whisk until smooth. let the mixture cool for 10 minutes.
  3. while the chocolate is cooling, put the sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and flour into a mixing bowl, whisking to combine.
  4. pour the cooled chocolate mixture into the bowl with the dry ingredients, and mix until thoroughly combined. scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl, and mix again to incorporate any residue.
  5. in a separate bowl, whisk together the vanilla, eggs, and sour cream or yogurt. mix into the chocolate batter, stirring until thoroughly combined.
  6. thoroughly grease a 10- to 12-cup bundt pan, preferably non-stick. pour the batter into the prepared pan. bake the cake for 50 to 55 minutes, until a long toothpick or skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Note: a pan with a dark interior will bake the cake more quickly; start checking at about 40 minutes.
  7. remove the cake from the oven, wait 5 minutes, and turn the pan over onto a cooling rack. after 5 more minutes, lift the pan off the cake. let the cake cool completely before icing.
  8. to make the icing: combine the chocolate and cream in a microwave-safe bowl, or in a saucepan set over medium heat. heat until the cream starts to bubble around the edges.
  9. remove from the heat, and stir until the chocolate melts and the mixture is smooth. spoon the icing over the top of the cake, letting it drip down the sides.
  10. store any leftover cake at room temperature, well wrapped, for several days. freeze for longer storage.