If you’re celebrating Bonfire Night this weekend, then you’re probably serving up some hearty and warming comfort food to compliment your fireworks.

For me, Bonfire Night just wouldn’t be the same without black peas, parkin and treacle toffee – the height of culinary sophistication of course!

But if you’re having a party, then it’s also good to have a few one-pot dishes on the go too; think cheese pie, meat and potato hash and a steaming bowl of chilli con carne.

And since it’s bonfire night we’ve got to have toffee. Lots and lots of toffee. So what could be better than my sticky toffee pudding with its rich, irresistible sauce.

Originating in the Lake District in the 1970s, this classic British dessert is one of the nation’s favourites and it’s always on the menu at my restaurant.

There are a few subtle variations on the recipe – some folks prefer not to add dates and others include extras like nuts and spices – but I think this recipe is the best. Using the correct type of sugar is very important too.

A good sticky toffee pudding is rich, moist and surprisingly light; it shouldn’t resemble a stodgy cake.

And of course it should be served with lashings of toffee sauce and plenty of custard or cream.


(serves 6-8)

100g dates

100g butter, softened

150g dark brown muscovado sugar

2 eggs

200g self-raising flour

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

150ml milk

2 tbsp black treacle

For the sauce

200g light brown muscovado sugar

100g butter

250ml double cream

1 tsp vanilla extract

Pinch of salt

Soak the dates in boiling water for 30 minutes then drain and mash or blitz in a food processor to create a puree.

While the dates are soaking pre-heat the oven to 180c/350F/Gas 4 and grease a wide ovenproof dish (approx. 1.5 litre).

Beat the butter and sugar together in a large bowl until creamy then mix in the dates, eggs and treacle. Sieve the flour and bicarbonate of soda into the bowl and mix to combine. Gradually add the milk to create a smooth batter.

Pour into the prepared dish and bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes until risen.

Check the centre of the pudding is cooked with a cake tester or skewer – it should come out clean.

Meanwhile make the toffee sauce by heating the sugar, butter, cream and vanilla in a pan over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved.

Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for a few minutes until the sauce has thickened and darkened in colour. Stir in a pinch of salt and remove from the heat.

Pour half of the sauce over the pudding while it is still warm then divide into individual servings and drizzle over a little more sauce.

This dish can also be made in advance and reheated when needed.

Serve hot with some double cream, ice cream or custard.