|Alternative names||Sticky date pudding|
|Place of origin||United Kingdom|
|Region or state||Disputed; popularized in Cumbria|
|Main ingredients||Sponge cake, dates, toffee|
Sticky toffee pudding, also known as STP or as sticky date pudding in Australia and New Zealand, is a British dessert consisting of a moist sponge cake, made with finely chopped dates, covered in a toffee sauce and often served with a vanilla custard or vanilla ice-cream. It is considered a British classic by various culinary experts, although the origins of the contemporary dish are only in the middle of the twentieth century.
The exact origins of sticky toffee pudding are unknown and disputed. Owners of several pubs, including the Gait Inn in Millington, East Riding of Yorkshire (claimed to 1907) and the Udny Arms Hotel in Newburgh, Aberdeenshire (1960s), claim to have invented the dish prior to its popularisation in the 1970s.
The popularity of the contemporary pudding can be dated more confidently back to the Sharrow Bay Country House Hotel in Cumbria, where Francis Coulson and Robert Lee developed and served the dish in the 1970s. Food critic Simon Hopkinson claimed that Coulson told him he got the recipe from a Patricia Martin of Claughton in Lancashire, and that she herself had received this from Canadian air force officers who had lodged at her hotel during the Second World War.
In 1989, the owners of the Village Shop in Cartmel, also in Cumbria, developed a version of their sticky toffee pudding, which they had been making since 1984, that could be taken home and heated in the oven or microwave. Their dish became popular, and by the late 1990s was being sold in supermarkets across the UK, with multiple retailers now selling versions of sticky toffee pudding to be eaten at home.
A sticky toffee pudding has two essential components. The first is a moist sponge cake, containing finely chopped dates. The sponge is usually light and fluffy, closer to a muffin consistency rather than a heavier traditional British sponge, and is often lightly flavoured with nuts or spices such as cloves The second key element is the toffee sauce, usually made from double cream and then different dark sugars, depending on recipe.
A sticky toffee pudding is most commonly served with custard or vanilla ice cream, the vanilla flavour of these complimenting the richer flavours of the pudding. It may also be served with single cream.