Made with dates and molasses, this traditional British dessert steals the heart of one very French chef.

By Nina Friend
Updated November 07, 2018

On this week’s episode of Ludo à la Maison, chef Ludo Lefebvre makes a quintessentially British dessert: sticky toffee pudding. While he has trouble remembering what exactly the dish is called (“What’s the name of the recipe?”), he has no problem zeroing in on the ultimate version—with a little help from his friend, Nigella Lawson.

“She’s an amazing cook and amazing baker,” Lefebvre says. “I tried this cake in her house in London. It was amazing.”

That’s some high praise from a French chef, especially considering the fact that he took a playful stab at British and Irish cuisines, saying that those cultures are “not really known for good food.” But the joke’s on Lefebvre, because according to a 23andMe test that he took (the company is sponsoring his show), he’s 25% British and Irish. (Lefebvre did backtrack by clarifying that he was talking about “a long time ago,” whereas “now, definitely they have amazing, amazing chefs.”)

When demonstrating Lawson’s rendition of sticky toffee pudding—which consists of sugary, molasses-and-date cake smothered in a buttery toffee sauce—Lefebvre makes a few notable observations:

Brits and Americans use sugar in many different forms.

“In France we just use regular sugar...We don’t use molasses, so it’s something new for me. When I moved here I got asked to do molasses, corn syrup, different kinds of sugar. Dark sugar. Light brown sugar. It was a lot of sugar.”

The toffee sauce has just the right amount of sweetness without being overpowering.

“Don’t give that to your kid before the bed, maybe not."

The key to this cake? Using a fork to poke holes in the top.

The holes enable the toffee sauce, which gets poured on top of the cake, to seep down, both moistening the cake and adding more sugary, molasses flavor. “It absorbs everything. Genius!”

While Lefebvre might have started out by joking about the reputation of British food, this moist, flavorful cake definitely turned him around.

Get the recipe: Sticky Toffee Pudding

(Try more pudding recipes)