Sticky Toffee and Earl Grey Pudding


One bite of chef Merlin Labron-Johnson’s take on this classic dessert and you’ll understand why he earned a Michelin star at the tender age of 24 at Portland. Dates are a regular player in sticky toffee pudding recipes; Labron-Johnson steeps them in Earl Grey tea, infusing them with the bright, aromatic lift of bergamot.

Sticky Toffee and Earl Grey Pudding
Photo: Victor Protasio
Active Time:
35 mins
Total Time:
1 hr 30 mins


  • 2 cups pitted Medjool dates, finely chopped

  • 2 Earl Grey tea bags

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1 1/4 cups boiling water

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (about 8 1/2 ounces)

  • 2 teaspoons baking powder

  • 1 1/4 teaspoons sea salt, divided

  • 3/4 cup vegetable shortening

  • 1 cup light muscovado sugar, divided

  • 3/4 cup dark muscovado sugar, divided

  • 3 large eggs

  • 1 cup unsalted butter (8 ounces), plus more for greasing

  • 1 cup heavy cream

  • Vanilla ice cream or clotted cream, for serving


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Place dates, tea bags, and baking soda in a medium bowl. Add 1 1/4 cups boiling water, and let stand 15 minutes. Remove and discard tea bags. Stir mixture with a fork to break apart dates.

  2. Stir together flour, baking powder, and 3/4 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl; set aside. Combine shortening, 1/4 cup light muscovado sugar, and 1/4 cup dark muscovado sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat on medium speed until no lumps remain, about 1 minute. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. With mixer running on low speed, gradually add flour mixture just until incorporated. Stir in date mixture. Lightly grease a 9-inch square baking pan with butter. Pour batter into prepared pan, and bake in preheated oven until a wooden pick inserted in center of pudding comes out clean, 30 to 32 minutes.

  3. While pudding bakes, combine butter, heavy cream, remaining 3/4 cup light muscovado sugar, remaining 1/2 cup dark muscovado sugar, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high, whisk- ing often. Boil, whisking constantly, until sauce reaches 218°F on an instant-read thermometer, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat.

  4. Remove pudding from oven, and immediately prick all over with a wooden or metal skewer, piercing all the way to the bottom of pan. Pour 1 1/2 cups warm toffee sauce evenly over pudding, and let stand until sauce is absorbed, about 30 minutes. Cut warm pudding into 9 (3-inch) squares. Top servings with ice cream or clotted cream; drizzle evenly with remaining 1/2 cup toffee sauce.

Related Articles