As I was sipping my coffee this fine morning and trying to figure out what I was going to post about, I realized that I haven’t done any cooking related posts in quite a while. Shame on me! Its not like I haven’t been cooking (and eating) all this time…I’ve just been forgetting to take photos.
Later this month we’re going to be hosting a Burns supper, in honor of Robert Burns – one of Scotland’s most beloved (and famous) poets. The ‘Bard’ would have been 250 years old this year, and in honor of this birthday Scotland is celebrating all year long. Truly it doesn’t take much for a Scotsman to want to celebrate!
Our menu for the evening is as follows: haggis, neeps & tatties, potato scones, oatcakes, bangers, roasted turkey with bread sauce, roasted brussel sprouts, shortbread, sticky toffee pudding, and Irn-Bru.
One of my favorite cooks is Ina Garten. Who doesn’t love the Barefoot Contessa, I ask you?! She advises never using your friends as guinea pigs when you’re having a dinner party. Honestly, I’m not above that. I want people’s honest opinion of the meal – if it’s horrible….well we won’t go there, but their reactions make me into a better cook – I learn what works and what doesn’t. Fortunately for my friends, I’ve pretty much I’ve got all the main components under control – it’s not my first Burns supper. However, I’d never made a sticky toffee pudding from scratch, and honestly, I didn’t have a clue where to begin. I’ve had tinned pudding, and I’ve had my daughter’s homemade pudding, and I love both, so I know what it’s supposed to taste like, but this was a whole new venture for me.
So sat down at my trusty laptop (which really isn’t all that trusty) and I scoured the Internet – searching every UK recipe website I could find. Within minutes I discovered that sticky toffee pudding in the UK is very much like American bread pudding – every one’s got their own version of what it should taste like. After browsing through a dozen recipes my head was swimming from all the metric measurements and unavailable ingredients, so I decided to try and make my own. And you know, it worked out pretty well! I ran out of brown sugar for the ‘glaze’ but all in all it was incredibly delightful, moist, full of rich fruity flavor, and very deep. A sure winner that goes down a warm treat on a cold winter’s night.
3/4 cup chopped dates
1 1/4 cups water
1 teaspoon baking soda
4 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 1/3 cups self-rising flour (OR you can use 1 1/3 cups all purpose flour with 1 teaspoon salt and 1 heaping tablespoon baking powder mixed into it)
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/4 cups light brown sugar
7 tablespoons butter
1 cup evaporated milk (OR you can use half-n-half)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup heavy cream, whipped OR a small can of ‘Pouring Creame’ (also called Table Creame) found in the Hispanic section of your local grocery store.
To make the cake:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
3. In a medium saucepan, boil the dates and water for about 5 minutes, or until soft.
4. Add baking soda to the date mixture – it will foam up quite a bit, but don’t be scared – that’s what it’s supposed to do. Remove the saucepan from heat.
5. In a large mixing bowl cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add eggs and continue mixing until completely incorporated.
6. Mix in the dates, flour and vanilla until just combined and pour the cake batter into the prepared pan. Bake in your preheated oven for 28 – 35 minutes, or until cake is firm to the touch. Be very careful not to over bake this – otherwise it will dry out and taste really nasty!
To make the glaze (while the cake is cooling slightly):
In a medium saucepan, combine brown sugar, butter, and evaporated milk – boil for 3 full minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
Pour glaze over very warm cake and spread evenly – it will soak into the cake, so work quickly. Serve warm with a dollop of whipped cream or a healthy drizzle of pouring cream. Refrigerate any leftovers.