Sticky Toffee Pudding with Porter Ice Cream
Puréed Medjool dates and heaps of toffee sauce contribute to making this cake sticky and ultra-moist. The whole thing is topped with an unusual porter ice cream that really tastes like porter and also complements the toasted, caramelized flavors in the pudding.
Making the Cake Base
The cake starts with creaming together butter and raw sugar, which is used to balance the oil in the final product. If brown sugar is used, the cake is a little too oily; if white sugar is used, it's a little too dry. The raw sugar provides a nice balance. Once the butter and raw sugar are smoothly blended, molasses, corn syrup, and an egg are added.
Flour is added and mixed until it's just incorporated. If it's over-mixed, too much gluten can form, which makes the baked cake chewy and tough.
Sticky toffee pudding is traditionally made with dates. Here, they get a one- or two-minute warm bath to soften up. Medjool dates are used because they're flavorful and easy to work with.
Date and Baking Soda Mixture
Timothy blended the dates and water together, stopping to scrape down the bowl several times, until they were broken down into a very smooth pureé. Since the final product is pudding, the texture needs to be velvety smooth without any chunks of date. Baking soda is added to the pureé, which causes the whole mixture to immediately leaven and turn lighter in color.
Coating Bundt Pan
Timothy said they tried buttering the bundt pan, then they tried buttering and flouring the bundt pan, and finally decided a hearty spray of oil was the only way to get these sticky cakes out of the pan.
The bundt molds are filled up almost to the top so that they purposefully bake up and out of the pan. The excess is then trimmed off later so that the cakes can more easily soak up the toffee sauce. These bake for only 15-18 minutes at 400°F.
While the cakes bake, dark brown sugar, molasses, corn syrup, and cream are mixed together before being heated so the sugar doesn't burn. The mix is then simmered to form a smooth sauce.
Adding Butter to Toffee Sauce
After the sauce just simmers, Timothy reduces the heat and whisks in butter. This is what makes it a toffee sauce instead of a caramel sauce, which is not usually finished with butter.
Finished Toffee Sauce
Once the butter is about 75% melted, Timothy turns off the heat completely so the mixture doesn't boil and separate.
The bundt molds are intentionally over-filled, so they're baked over a sheet pan that catches any spillage. The tops are then sliced off soon after they're pulled from the oven to leave the cakes open for soaking up lots of toffee sauce.
First Toffee Sauce Soak
Warm toffee sauce is ladled directly into the hot cakes, which soak it up like little sponges.
If everything goes well, the cakes are left to sit in the sauce for just a few minutes before getting knocked out of the mold. If they cool too much in the mold, they harden and become impossible to remove.
Second Toffee Sauce Soak
Toffee sauce is once again ladled directly into the divot in the still-warm cakes. They are then wrapped in plastic wrap while they're still warm so they don't form a crust. They're then left to cool before getting plated, when they are yet again bathed in more toffee sauce.
Toffee Pudding with Porter
Because of the toasted and rich caramel flavors in the pudding, porter is a nice complement—in both ice cream and liquid form.