Acorn Sticky Toffee Pudding

The idea for making acorn sticky toffee pudding has been floating around in my head for years. This fall, I finally set to work testing the recipe. This turned out to be quite challenging, as the traditional sticky toffee pudding desserts I tried were fiddly, requiring multiple steps and individual ramekins and water baths. All this made for a big complicated mess when trying to also substitute in acorn flour for regular flour. Five separate tries came out too dry and hard.

Enter Nigella Lawson. I should have known that someone who has always embraced butter and simplifying cooking would have a wonderful recipe for sticky toffee pudding. Nigella's version is an all-in-one bowl affair, which didn't require soaking the dates or cooking the sauce stovetop. Here's the unusual bit. Her recipe is baked with boiling water poured over the top. I'll admit that it took a leap off faith to pour water over the batter that first time. The result is spectacular, completely squidgy and sticky, and with the sauce magically formed around the cake. In fact, it came out so well that I was able to eventually switch the recipe to 100% acorn flour. I truly believe that this is one of the very best wild food dishes I've ever made.

Acorn Sticky Toffee Pudding

3 Tbsp. melted butter
1/4 c. milk
1 egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 c. brown sugar (not packed)
1/2 c. acorn flour (see this post for to learn more about processing acorns for flour)
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
100 g. very sticky dates, pitted and chopped

1/2 c. brown sugar
1 Tbsp butter, cut into tiny knobs
1 c. boiling water

1. Whisk together the 3 Tbsp. melted butter, milk, egg, and vanilla.

2. Stir in the first 1/4 c. brown sugar, salt, baking soda, and most, but not all of the acorn flour. The reason for this is you want to see how the wet ingredients are absorbed by the acorn flour. You want the batter to be closer to the consistency of a normal cake batter than a brownie batter, or it will come out too dense and dry. I usually let it sit while I'm chopping the dates, then decide whether to add more acorn flour. My acorn flour is dried in the dehydrator and I live in an arid climate, so it is quite dry.

3. Stir in the chopped dates, then pour the batter into a buttered 1-quart baking dish. In case it should boil over, place the baking dish on a cookie sheet covered in aluminum foil.

4. Sprinkle the additional 1/2 c. of brown sugar over the top of the cake, then dot it with the small pieces of butter. Just before sticking it into the oven, pour the cup of boiling water over the top. Try to control that little voice in your head that is saying, "this is wrong, this is so wrong!"

5. Bake the cake at 375˚ for 40 minutes. This is a very wet cake, but it still passes the toothpick test when it's finished baking.

6. Let the cake sit 60-90 minutes before serving, because it's just too molten and soggy straight away. Acorn sticky toffee pudding is best eaten slightly warm with a drizzle of cream.

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