Sunday, September 4, 2011

Back in Action!

Patience is key when making toffee sauce.
Hey there folks!  Sorry it’s been awhile.  There are no excuses for abandoning my legions of fans (hello again mom!) for roughly a month.  One thing I blame it on is my evil, evil sewing machine.  “Sewing machine?” you say, “It is simply an inanimate object created to ease the lives of humans, a sewing machine cannot be evil.”  And there, dear reader, is where you’re wrong.  My sewing machine has conspired against me and my effort to create my first paid-for apron.  Which is the reason I haven’t been posting.  This apron was supposed to be done the first week of August and then I could post about it and then move on to other projects.  Alas, no amount of hitting or yelling could move the machine to work like it knows it should.  I’ll post something once I get this *$@#ing machine to work.  Without Andy’s cool head and mechanical knowledge sewing just doesn’t happen.  So once the machine realizes it can sew just fine (and perhaps, I learn to put a bobbin in correctly) apron #2 post isn’t going to happen.  I’ve learned to accept that.

But we still have to eat.  And that’s pretty much what I’ve been doing for the past month.  Working and eating, some sleeping.  But not taking pictures and blogging.  Until today!

The makings of toffee sauce, without the brown sugar...
Sticky toffee pudding.  What more can be said?  Possibly... what is it?  I’d never heard of this dish until a seminal episode of Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares where the sticky toffee pudding was the best dish in the whole restaurant, despite the head chef’s chagrin.  As I’ve mentioned before, I love toffee. So this dish intrigued me, despite never having made a British “pudding” (or an American pudding without use of a packet for that matter).  It’s like a cake, or a quick bread with dates and a toffee sauce.

Artistically adding molasses to heavy cream and sugar to start making toffee sauce.

One trouble with making this dish is that I’ve not seen a lot of fresh dates in the grocery stores around here.  I figured our local natural market would be most likely to have dates, and before I saw dates I found figs!  I’ve been seeing people gush over eating figs recently and I was really curious to try them (outside of a Fig Newton that is).  With my fresh figs in hand I went about finding the ingredients for sticky toffee pudding. I was asked by a clerk if I needed help finding anything, and at that point I was under the impression I needed dried dates, so I asked the clerk to point me in the dried dates.  But I think I actually said figs, since I was on a fig finding high, and inattentively I went home with both dried and fresh figs.  While home Andy asked me why I bought both dried and fresh figs and I told him that I had actually bought dried dates and fresh figs, can’t you read the labels?!


I treated the figs like they were the dates called for in the recipe and at first things weren’t smelling successful.  This made me nervous.  But if the recipe only called for boiling dried fruit and water then it would be disgusting.  Luckily, there’s more to it than that and the batter I taste tested was delicious!  Roughly an hour after starting I had delicious sticky toffee pudding on my hands.
Before it's pudding it's kind of pale.

Post baking it looks like chocolate!  Though, there's no chocolate involved.

Official Antique Modernism Taste Tester Andy was delivered a plate to and by the time I had returned with a drink, the pudding was gone!  Now that’s a hearty endorsement.

I used David Lebovitz’s recipe from his blog.  He calls for some mighty pricey ingredients, which by all means, if you can, use those.  The money tree we’re starting in the back yard hasn’t flowered yet, so I used what I had on hand (besides the figs/dates).  I also read a recipe from an Australian that called for both fresh dates and dried figs (!), so both can be used (and from what I see, then can be either fresh or dried).  If the date/fig thing freaks you out, just try it!  It’s very tasty and not weird at all (like most British food).  If you don’t like it, well at least you end up with a pan full of toffee sauce.

Warm Sticky Toffee Pudding, from David Lebovitz

Toffee Sauce
2 cups (500ml) heavy cream
1/2 cup (90g) demerara or muscovado sugar (or another dark brown sugar)
2 1/2 tablespoons golden syrup or molasses
pinch of salt

6 ounces (180g) pitted dates, snipped or chopped
1 cup (250ml) water
1 teaspoon baking soda
optional: 1/3 cup (40g) candied ginger, chopped
1 1/4 cups (175g) flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
4 tablespoons (55g) unsalted butter
3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Preheat the oven to 350F (190C) and butter an 8 1/2-inch (24cm) porcelain soufflé dish (or similar-sized baking dish.)
2. Make the toffee sauce by bringing the cream, demerara or turbinado sugar, golden syrup (or molasses) and salt to a boil in a medium saucepan, stirring often to melt the sugar.
3. Lower heat and simmer, stirring constantly for about 5 minutes, until the mixture is thick and coats the spoon. Pour half the sauce into the prepared soufflé dish and place the dish in the freezer, and reserve the other half for serving.
4. To make the pudding, in a medium saucepan, heat the dates and water. Once the water begins to boil, remove from heat and stir in the baking soda. Add the ginger, if using, then set aside, but keep it slightly warm.
5. In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
6. In the bowl of a standing electric mixer, or by hand, beat the butter and granulated sugar until light 
and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs, then the vanilla. (Don’t be alarmed if the mixture looks a bit curdled.)
7. Stir in half of the flour mixture, then the date mixture, then add the remaining flour mixture until just mixed. Don’t over beat the batter.
8. Remove the soufflé dish from the freezer and scrape the batter into the soufflé dish and bake for 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with moist crumbs attached.
9. Remove the pudding from the oven, and let cool slightly before serving.
Serving: Spoon portions of the cake into serving bowls and douse with additional warm toffee sauce.

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