Sticky toffee pudding recipe by Nigella Lawson

The Lake District has given us many great things: some of the most beautiful scenery in the British Isles, William Wordsworth, Postman Pat, Grasmere Gingerbread and the glory that is sticky toffee pudding.

My STP is altogether deeper and darker than the original version: it is still sweet, but the muscovado sugar and black treacle give it an almost savage intensity. It seems redolent of ginger, cloves, allspice – and yet none of these spices are used. It’s a miracle. I don’t understand it – but then, miracles are not to be questioned.

It shouldn’t be eaten piping hot, but warm; once the sponge has been topped with a glaze of the sauce, and had its 30 minutes’ waiting time, it will be at optimum temperature. And cold – should you have any leftovers – a slab of it cut from the dish tastes like the most magnificent sticky gingerbread.

You will find it easier to measure out the black treacle if you run your spoon under a hot tap first.

Cuts into 9 generous slabs
For the sponge
soft dried pitted dates 200g, roughly chopped
water 200ml, from a freshly boiled kettle
bicarbonate of soda 1 tsp
unsalted butter 75g, soft, plus more for greasing
black treacle 2 x 15ml tbsp
dark muscovado sugar 50g
eggs 2 large, at room temperature
plain flour 150g
baking powder 2 tsp

For the sauce
unsalted butter 150g, soft
dark muscovado sugar 300g
black treacle 1 x 15ml tbsp
double cream 200ml, plus more to serve

You will need a baking dish about 23cm square. Preheat the oven to 160C fan/gas mark 4 and lightly grease your dish. Put the chopped dates, boiling water and bicarb into a bowl, give a stir and then leave for 10 minutes.

Cream the butter and black treacle until well mixed, then add the sugar and mix again, beating out any lumps. Beat in an egg and keep beating – scraping down as necessary – until completely incorporated, then do likewise with the other egg. Beating more gently, add the flour and baking powder until you have a smooth, thick batter.

Using a fork, stir the soaked dates, squishing them a bit, then pour the dates and their liquid into the batter and beat gently to mix in.

Pour and scrape into your 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’s in the oven, you can make the sauce. Melt the butter, muscovado sugar and treacle over a very low heat in a heavy-based saucepan. Once the butter’s melted, stir gently until everything else is melted too. Now stir in the cream, then turn up the heat and when it’s bubbling and hot, take it off the heat.

As soon as it’s out of the oven, prick the cooked sponge pudding all over with a cocktail stick and pour about a quarter of the warm sauce over, easing it to the edges with a spatula so that the sponge is entirely topped with a thick sticky glaze. Put a lid on the remaining sauce in the pan to keep it warm.

Leave for 20-30 minutes, or up to an hour is fine, then take to the table, with the rest of the sauce in the jug, and cream to serve.

From At My Table by Nigella Lawson (Vintage Publishing, £28)