The Mail on Sunday - You - - Food -

This is for my favourite per­son, my hus­band Jim. Sticky tof­fee pud­ding is one of his all-time favourites. I have in­cluded pears to give ex­tra mois­ture. Serve it with cus­tard, clot­ted cream or ice cream. SERVES 10 FOR THE PUD­DING 90g un­salted but­ter, soft­ened, plus ex­tra for greas­ing 160g stoned dates, roughly chopped 1 tsp vanilla ex­tract 150g light mus­co­v­ado sugar 2 large eggs, at room tem­per­a­ture 2 tbsp black trea­cle 175g self-rais­ing flour 1 tsp bi­car­bon­ate of soda 100ml milk

Pre­heat the oven to 170C/ 325F/gas 3. Lightly grease the bak­ing tray and line it with bak­ing parch­ment. Put the chopped dates in a heat­proof bowl and pour over 150ml boil­ing wa­ter. Cover with cling­film and leave un­til cold, then add the vanilla ex­tract and mash the dates with a fork – don’t worry if it is a lit­tle lumpy.

Peel, quar­ter and core the pears (re­move the stems too). Melt the 40g of but­ter in a large fry­ing pan over a medium heat. Add the sugar and stir un­til the mix­ture bub­bles and the sugar has dis­solved. Add the pears and cook for 5-10 min­utes un­til caramelised and ten­der, turn­ing them over so that all the sides get nicely browned. Re­move from the heat.

To make the pud­ding bat­ter, beat the but­ter with the sugar in a bowl un­til pale and soft. Beat in the eggs one at a time, mak­ing sure the first is well in­cor­po­rated be­fore adding the next. Add the trea­cle and mix well. In a small bowl, com­bine the flour and bi­car­bon­ate of soda and add them to the trea­cle mix­ture. Gen­tly fold FOR THE PEARS 5 ripe pears 40g un­salted but­ter 25g golden gran­u­lated sugar FOR THE TOF­FEE SAUCE 225g light mus­co­v­ado sugar 100g un­salted but­ter, soft­ened 275ml dou­ble cream 1 tbsp black trea­cle YOU WILL NEED a 20cm x 30cm bak­ing tray at least 3cm deep to com­bine, then fold in the milk. Stir in the mashed dates and their soak­ing liq­uid.

Ar­range the pear quar­ters in a layer in the bak­ing tray and pour over any buttery juices from the pan. Care­fully pour the bat­ter evenly over the pears and pop it in the oven for 45-50 min­utes. It’s done when a tooth­pick or skewer in­serted in the cen­tre comes out clean.

While the pud­ding is bak­ing, make the tof­fee sauce. Gen­tly heat the sugar, but­ter and half the cream in a large saucepan un­til the sugar dis­solves. In­crease the heat to medium-high, stir in the trea­cle and let it bub­ble for 2-3 min­utes, stir­ring con­tin­u­ously, un­til it turns a rich tof­fee colour. Take the pan off the heat and stir in the rest of the cream.

Al­low the pud­ding to cool in the tray for 20 min­utes, then poke it all over with a tooth­pick or skewer. Pour over half the tof­fee sauce and al­low to rest for 15 min­utes. In­vert the tray­bake on to a large plat­ter or board to serve, with the rest of the tof­fee sauce for pour­ing and cus­tard or clot­ted cream or – bet­ter yet – vanilla ice cream.

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