Can Cook, Must Cook

The food adventures of Franka P, a Trinidadian journalist living in London, UK. I'll write about my forays into all types of food and cooking, particularly Caribbean food. I'll also review books and recipes by the leading food writers and talk about the issues making headlines in the gastronomic world.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Doing dessert - Part One

Franka's Sticky Toffee PuddingI won't be able to call myself a great cook until I've mastered baking and dessert making.
I know a lot of people say they don't have the patience for making bread, pastry and cake but I think it's fundamental for a proper cook to master these skills.
In the past I've made decent Christmas fruit cake, good Trinidadian bake and sweetbread but I'm not particularly confident about bread, sponge cakes and pastry. I'm not fussed though, one day I'll get it right.
I was asked to contribute a dish to a traditional British Sunday lunch that took place last Sunday, so instead of doing something easy like roast chicken, I plumped for the challenge of making a classic British dessert, Sticky Toffee Pudding.

Sticky Toffee Pudding - which happens to be my favourite dessert - is a moist sponge cake made with fine chopped dates and served covered with toffee sauce.
I agonised so much about it, I woke up at 4am on Sunday to make it so if anything went wrong the first time, I'd have the chance to try again!
Although the method is relatively straightforward, I couldn't help but panic a bit.
I kept asking myself whether the sugar was supposed to be totally dissolved in the butter before I added the eggs. And I wondered if I was folding in the flour properly or knocking the air out of the mixture.
So you could imagine my relief when the cake rose evenly in the oven and didn't sink after I took it out!
It turns out my worrying was in vain, because everyone said they enjoyed it and some even asked for seconds.
I didn't think my effort was too bad but it could have been a bit more moist.
I think next time I make Sticky Toffee Pudding, I'll either bake it in a bain-marie or just take it out of the oven a bit earlier.

Sticky Toffee Pudding
225g (8 oz) dates, chopped
290ml (1/2 pint) tea
110g (4 oz) butter
170g (6 oz) caster sugar
3 eggs
225g (8 ozs) self raising flour, sifted
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 tsp strong coffee

1. Preheat oven to 180C (350F).
2. Soak the dates in the hot tea for 15 minutes.
3. Grease a 22cm (8.5 in) deep cake tin and line the base with a circle of oiled greaseproof paper.

4. Cream together the butter and sugar until pale.
5. Beat in the eggs gradually and then fold in the sifted flour
6. Add the soda, vanilla essence and coffee to the dates and tea and fold into the cake mixture.
7. Turn into the prepared tin and bake in the middle of the oven for 1-1.5 hours or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
8. Pour the warm toffee sauce over the hot pudding and serve immediately.

Toffee Sauce
2 tbsp brandy
110g (4 oz) butter
55g (2 oz) demerara sugar
2 tbsp double cream
1. Put all ingredients in saucepan and heat until melted. Bring to boil and allow to thicken slightly.

Recipes taken from Leith's Cookery Bible.

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  • At 12:26, Anonymous Michelle said…

    I am ok at desserts, but when it comes to anything that has Yeast in, it never rises and it is always a disaster. I have given up with yeast


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