Sticky Toffee Pudding, or What is a Tin?

Sticky toffee pudding is a cold-weather treat, but we haven’t had cold weather for awhile (and I’m not complaining). Last year we had March for about 4 months; this year we pretty much skipped March and a lot of April, too. The highs this weekend and through Monday will be hovering around 70℉, and that’s going to count as cool weather because beginning Tuesday, we’re looking at highs in the mid 80s to around 90. So tonight I made sticky toffee pudding.

A couple of months ago, our friend Michele, who’s temporarily living in England, had sticky toffee pudding at a pub and then tried making it at home. It didn’t work well for her, but she wasn’t using the right flour, if I remember correctly. I thought it would be fun to try, so I bookmarked the recipe and I’ve been threatening to make it ever since.

This afternoon I soaked the dates in hot water with coffee powder, vanilla, and baking soda. I have no idea why the baking soda is in there, but it foams up and looks less than appetizing:

Date mixture with baking soda foam

Date mixture with baking soda foam


After it had cooled for a couple of hours, the mixture looked better:
Date mixture, cooled

Date mixture, cooled


The batter itself is pretty straightforward. You leave a stick of butter out all day, and you toss that in the mixing bowl with brown sugar and beat them together:
Sticky toffee pudding battter, step 1

Sticky toffee pudding battter, step 1


Then you add the self-rising flour and the date mixture:
Sticky toffee pudding batter, finished

Sticky toffee pudding batter, finished


I don’t have self-rising flour; apparently it’s popular in England. You can make your own by adding baking powder and salt to regular flour, which I did. The general formula is 1½ tsp baking powder and ½ tsp salt per cup of flour. This recipe calls for 9 oz of flour, which is about 2 cups, so I put the bowl on the scale, tared the scale, measured in 1 T of baking powder and 1 tsp of salt, and then added flour to make 9 oz. The baking powder and salt came out to ½ oz, for what it’s worth.

The recipe also specifies a 7-inch square tin. I interpreted “tin” to mean “baking pan,” and I don’t have a square one that size but I thought an 8-inch round ramekin would do:

7 x 7 = 49
3.14 x 16 = 50.24

Well, the areas are similar, but what about the volume? Apparently a “7-inch tin” has more volume than my ramekin, because the recipe says to “cook until well risen,” and unless this is rising like a soufflé, I’m out of room at the start:

Sticky toffee pudding batter in an 8-inch ramekin

Sticky toffee pudding batter in an 8-inch ramekin


I figured I would just follow the directions and see what happened. After about 10 minutes, what had happened was this:
Sticky toffee pudding disaster

Sticky toffee pudding disaster


I pulled the ramekin out of the oven and transferred the batter to a 10-cup Bundt pan:
Sticky toffee pudding batter in a larger "tin"
After about another half hour of baking, it turned out pretty well:
Sticky toffee pudding, done

Sticky toffee pudding, done


Meanwhile, I had not been idle; I’d been making the toffee. You toss another stick of butter and some more brown sugar (do we see a theme here?) into a saucepan:
Toffee, step 1

Toffee, step 1


and cook that until the sugar melts:
Toffee, step 2

Toffee, step 2


Then you add the cream:
Toffee with cream; isn't that pretty?

Toffee with cream; isn't that pretty?


And slowly bring that to the boil, at which point apparently it’s toffee:
Toffee

Toffee


I realized (too late) that I hadn’t sprayed the Bundt pan and that the pudding might not come out without a fight. The pan is theoretically nonstick, but we all know better than that. However, as you can see in the photo, the baked pudding pulled away from the sides of the pan, so that was a good sign, and it came out just fine. We each had a small serving topped with toffee:
A serving of sticky toffee pudding

A serving of sticky toffee pudding


It was pretty good, and I’m glad I made it.

But what is a tin? The British appear to use the word tin pretty generically to mean “metal container.” What Americans call a “can” the British call a “tin.” (Here’s a story I’m told is true: Some English tourists in the United States visited a small family farm. They asked the farmer if the family could eat all the produce from the farm before it spoiled. The farmer replied, “We eat what we can, and what we can’t we can.” The tourists thought this was an amusing way to put it, and when they got back to England they told the story to their friends with the punch line, “And the farmer said, ‘We eat what we can, and what we can’t we do up into tins.'”) Americans sometimes use “tin” for a metal baking container: We can bake a pie in a “pie pan” or “pie tin.” I’ve heard “cake pan” and “cake tin” used interchangeably. So when I read “7 inch square tin,” it didn’t occur to me that I needed something deep. That bit about “well risen” should’ve tipped me off, though. The name “pudding” should’ve tipped me off, too.

The English have steamed puddings, which are quick breads steamed in pudding tins. A pudding tin is typically a metal mold with a lid, and it holds a lot more than my 8-inch ramekin does. In fact, I’ve looked up some information about pudding tins, and a 7-inch square one probably holds about 9 cups. If I’d realized that earlier, I would’ve just used the Bundt pan to begin with. Well, now I know. If an English recipe for “pudding” specifies a “tin” of a particular size, I’ll find out the intended volume, not just the area.

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2 Comments

Filed under Cake

2 responses to “Sticky Toffee Pudding, or What is a Tin?

  1. Michele Wolfe

    Joan,
    I’m going to forward your post to a friend of mine in the UK. June and her husband owns one of our favorite pubs and makes the best sticky toffee pudding. She’d enjoy your post and has heard of my own struggle with sticky toffee pudding!

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