Sticky Toffee Pudding and Unshakable Reputations

 My plan for tonight was to make an Irish Stew, it being St Patricks Day and all, but I’ve had a weekend of being ill so something had to give. Instead I went for something I recently discovered to make: Sticky Toffee Pudding, without any dates (because seriously, what’s the deal with dates?)

 

The first time I made this was only last Sunday, which was Mother’s Day here in the UK. Apparently I only make Sticky Toffee Pudding on special occasions! My mum invited my sister and I, plus her boyfriend and my husband and kids over to her house for a meal. She likes to cook so there was no chance of getting her to relinquish the meal making duties to us daughters, so instead I offered to make a pudding, something I often do on Christmasses, Easters and other special meal times. What I didn’t expect was that my offer would start of a hilarious joke at my expense that would inevitably make me feel pretty shitty. When my mum invited me I didn’t think twice before saying “I’ll make the pudding.” Her reaction? “Oh God!”

 

It was easy to chalk that one up to a joke. I rolled my eyes and said I’d make a chocolate mousse and that was the end of it. Until the next time the pudding was mentioned and again I got the same reaction. On the day I rang to confirm what time we’d be there and was told that a pudding had been purchased. I didn’t mind; there were going to be seven of us eating so chances would be that two puddings would feed us better than one. I explained that I’d made a Sticky Toffee Pudding instead of a mousse and again got an “oh God!” reaction. I did question this one and it turned out mum thought this would be hard to make, as did I, but I assured her it was easy.

 

Finally the event: mum had made impressed noises at the pudding and sauce I has brought over to be reheated before serving. When my sister arrived things were different. There has long been a running joke in my family that I have a penchant for making green cakes. I cannot figure out where this has come from, besides the fact that I did like to add mint extract to icing as a teenager so I guess I added green colouring, too, but honestly this has not stayed in my memory. Certainly since moving out I have made very few “green cakes” and yeah, it kinda pushes my buttons so I rankled at the jokes my mum and sister made about the pudding: was it green? Was it safe to eat? You know that feeling when three people are together and two are laughing at the expense of the third? Yeah, that was what it was. So I retreated from the kitchen and had a little sulk in the living room, which is not something a 27 year old should readily admit to.

 

My point, which may have gotten lost among the woe-is-me angst above, is this: if you get a reputation, whether it be for making green cakes or for something more serious, can you ever shift it? Especially when the reputation is foisted upon you by family. I’m considered lazy and messy by my mum and sister. They are both tidy people. They’re houses are immaculate. Mine…not so much. I’m not naturally tidy and I can always find something more interesting to do than clean. But I am not lazy and I resent the fact that nothing I do can ever, ever stop some of the people I am closest to in my life from believing. So that day I decided to try and find some peace with living my life how I want to live it. I make different choices to my mum and sister. But I don’t hurt anyone with these choices so what does it matter. Later that week we were talking about houses, my mum and I, as my husband and I are hopefully going to start looking to buy this year, and she quipped “let’s hope it’ll be a tidy house.” I shot back “It’s never going to be tidy enough for you or [my sister] so you might as well give that dream up now.” All said with a smile, but firmly and she didn’t push the issue. My mum and I had already sorted the pudding issue, I hasten to add. We talked it out the day after Mother’s Day. It’s families, eh? I am lucky to come from a very nuturing and close extended family, but sometimes stuff still gets said and nothing is thought of it, yet dwelling ensues and feelings happen and that’s just life. That’s families.

 

So, finally onto the pudding. It’s so easy and quick that once you know how to do it you’ll be knocking them out every Sunday, like I appear to be doing! Plus you can get brownie points from anyone you make it for as it seems to be something people think is hard to make (and it so is not!!!)

The recipe:

190g plain flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

120g soft brown sugar

1 pinch salt

120ml milk

2 eggs

6 tablespoons melted butter or margarine

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Toffee sauce:

120g butter or margarine

200g soft brown sugar

250ml double cream

This is an amalgamation of a bunch of recipes and as I’ve already said I’ve omitted to add any dates. I thought about adding hazelnuts, because I love hazelnuts, but I left those out too. Its a pretty standard starting point though, so feel free to add whatever takes your fancy. I’ve personally considered adding cinnamon to the pudding, or even adding some cocoa powder or chocolate chips, although that might be a little too sweet! If you have any suggestions or alternatives I’d love to see them in the comments!

First things first, preheat the oven. Then mix together the flour, the baking powder and the salt. Then chuck in the sugar and mix it all up.

Child labour...

Child labour…

 

 

 

 

In a seperate bowl (or jug as I used) mix the milk, the eggs and the melted butter. You may have noticed in the ingredients list that the quantity of butter is listed as 6 tablespoons. This makes me so irrationally annoyed–this is not a proper unit of measurement for butter! Still, I’ve made it work.

Cracking the eggs, with her tongue out for concentration!

Cracking the eggs, with her tongue out for concentration!

Mix the dry and wet ingredients together.013

And then you pour the mixed mixture into a greased baking tin and stick it in the oven for 20-30 minutes until it looks like this:

022

The toffee sauce is very simple to make, too. For a start, the recipe asks for 120 grams of butter, which is a unit I can handle! Melt it down in a pan and then add the sugar and then the cream. Stir it over a low heat until it changes to a dark brown colour:

Swirly, swirly

Swirly, swirly

Toffee sauce

Toffee sauce

Leave the sauce to stand for about 5-10 minutes after making it so it cools from “It’s burning my mouth!” to “mmm warm and gooey”.

Enjoy!

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