This quintessential English dish, sticky toffee pudding, is sticky, gooey, and absolutely delicious. This decadent recipe by Allsion Stone is adapted from The Great British Book of Baking.
Grease an 8-inch square baking pan with softened unsalted butter. Set aside.
Make the sauce. Put the sugar, butter, cream and vanilla seeds into a medium pan. Heat gently until the butter has melted, stir with a wooden spoon, then bring to a boil and simmer for about 5 minutes, until thick and toffee-colored.
Pour 1/3 of the sauce into the greased baking pan, creating a thin coat on the bottom of the pan. Place the pan in the freezer. Set aside the remaining sauce and keep slightly warm.
Put the dates and baking soda in a medium pan. Pour over the boiling water, then set the pan over medium heat and simmer for 1 minute. Remove from heat and let cool.
Meanwhile, heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Put the butter and sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer and beat with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy. Gradually add the eggs, beating well and scraping the sides of the bowl after each addition. Gently stir in the flour, just until combined. Then stir in the cooled date mixture and the vanilla extract just until evenly incorporated.
Remove the prepared pan from the freezer and pour in the batter. Bake 35 min or until springy to the touch.
Remove the baked pudding from oven. Using a skewer, poke a few holes in the top, and pour another 1/3 of the warm sauce over the top of the cake. Place the pudding back into the oven for a couple of minutes just to caramelize the sauce on top.
Remove from the oven and serve with the remaining warm toffee sauce, as well as vanilla crème anglaise or vanilla ice cream.