tThe Lake District has given us many wonderful things: some of the most beautiful scenery in the British Isles, William Wordsworth, Postman’s Pat, Grasmere Gingerbread and glory that is sticky toffee.
My STP is completely deeper and darker than the original: it’s still sweet, but the muscovado sugar and black color give it an almost brutal intensity. It smells like ginger, cloves and allspice – however none of those spices were used. It’s a miracle. I don’t get it – but then, miracles are not to be questioned.
It should not be eaten hot, but warm; Once the sponge is covered in a layer of sauce, and its waiting time is 30 minutes, it will be at the optimum temperature. And the cold – if you have any leftovers – a piece of it cut from the plate tastes like the most amazing sticky gingerbread.
You’ll find it easier to measure out the black liqueur if you run the spoon under a hot faucet first.
For the sponge
Dried soft dates
Bicarbonate of soda
Dark muscovado sugar
To prepare the sauce
Dark muscovado sugar
You will need a baking dish measuring 23 square centimeters. Preheat oven to 160°C fan/gas mark
Beat the butter with the treacle until well blended, then add the sugar and mix again, beating off any lumps. Beat in an egg and keep whisking—scraping it as necessary—until it’s completely blended, then do the same with the other egg. Gently whisk the mixture and add the flour and baking powder until you get a smooth and thick mixture.
Using a fork, stir in the soaked dates, pressing them in slightly, then pour the dates and liquid into the mixture and gently beat to combine.
Pour and scrape into the prepared dish or cake tin and bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.
While the pudding is in the oven, you can make the sauce. Melt the butter, muscovado sugar, and black shortening over very low heat in a heavy saucepan. Once the butter melts, stir gently so everything else melts as well. Now stir in the cream, then raise the heat and when it boils and heats up, remove it from the heat.
Once out of the oven, prick the fully cooked sponge pudding with a cocktail stick and pour about a quarter of the warm sauce over it, loosening it around the edges with a spatula until the sponge is completely covered in a thick, sticky slick. Glaze. Put a lid on the remaining sauce in the pan to keep it warm.
Leave it for 20-30 minutes, or up to an hour is fine, then take it to the table, with the rest of the sauce in the jug, and the cream to serve.
From My Table by Nigella Lawson (Vintage Publishing, £28)