What’s better than gooey delicious sticky toffee pudding without dates? Not much! This fluffy and delicious cake is super easy to make and packed with sweet apricots, smooth honey, and the kick of ginger.
Sticky toffee pudding is an old-school English dessert. You think it’s like American pudding, but the texture is more like a cake. It's covered in caramel sauce and just melts in your mouth.
However, this classic British dessert usually has dates and not everyone has those on hand. That’s why we created our recipe! This is a fresh California-inspired take on a date free sticky toffee pudding.
This easy sticky toffee pudding uses apricots instead of dates, honey rather than brown sugar, and adds a punch of ginger. It’s all my favorite flavors combined to make the best sticky toffee pudding recipe ever!
Need a cozy drink to go with your pudding? - try these!
Toffee Pudding Ingredients and Substitutions
The best sticky toffee pudding sauce ingredients
Sticky toffee pudding cake ingredients
All substitutions are a 1:1 substitute unless otherwise noted.
Dried Apricots: Dried apricots are sweet, but not as sweet as dates. Therefore, we'll need more apricots for this recipe than one that uses dates.
Substitutions: Any dried apricots will work as long as they're unsweetened. I note 7-8 ounces because even if you use a little more or a little less, this recipe will be delicious! It should be approximately 1 cup of apricots.
Butter: I like to use unsalted butter to control the salt separately for this dateless sticky toffee pudding recipe.
Substitutions: Unsalted or salted butter will work just fine. Vegan butter will work too. I don't recommend oil because some of this butter is for the toffee sauce which will not set if using oil instead of butter.
Honey: I love to use honey as my sweetener of choice! Not only does it add a slight tang (honey is actually an acid!), but it's one of the most sustainable sweeteners.
Substitutions: Brown sugar will work in place of honey for both the cake and the toffee sauce.
Eggs: Eggs are needed to be a binder in this cake.
Substitutions: Sorry, no substitutions for these. Flax eggs may work but haven't been tested.
Molasses: Molasses is the discards from sugar cane production. It's essentially the caramelized, burnt, bits of sugar turned into syrup. This adds a wonderful nutty note to this no date sticky toffee pudding!
Substitutions: Date syrup can be used but then it wouldn't be a recipe for sticky toffee pudding without dates. You can also just use additional honey, dark brown sugar, or even golden syrup as a quick swap for molasses.
Vanilla: I always use pure vanilla extract because it adds a buttery flavor without requiring you to add more butter.
Substitutions: Imitation vanilla will work. Otherwise, you can just leave out the vanilla in a pinch. Almond extract would also be tasty, but you'll only need about a fourth of the quantity because it's so much stronger than vanilla.
Flour: All-purpose flour for this recipe all the way!
Substitutions: Bread flour will also be great for this recipe. I believe that this no date sticky toffee pudding will also work using a 1:1 gluten-free flour replacement, but it has not been tested.
Baking Powder and Baking Soda: When baking with so many wet ingredients, it's important to have the appropriate amount of leavening ingredients. This is especially true when using honey because, as an acid, it will react with baking soda.
Substitutions: Sorry, no substitutes for these if you want light sticky toffee pudding.
Spices: Salt and ground ginger are the only spices needed for this recipe! I do like to top my finished cakes with crystalized ginger candies for an extra little bite, but totally optional!
Substitutions: Sorry, no substitution for the salt but you can leave out the ginger in a pinch or use 2 tablespoons of minced ginger.
Half & Half: The half and half is a staple of a good caramel or toffee sauce.
Substitutions: Whole milk or heavy cream will work in place of half and half. Coconut milk from a can will also work.
Corn Starch: Because we are using honey for this sticky toffee sauce, thickening doesn’t occur the same as if we used brown sugar. That being said, we need a smidge of cornstarch to help thicken it.
Substitutions: Arrowroot flour can be used instead of cornstarch.
How to Make This - Step by Step
Step one: Prepare by bringing water to a boil either in the microwave, with a kettle, or on the stove top. Add the hot water and the apricots to a heat-safe bowl and cover it with a plate. Let this sit until the water has cooled and the fruit is soft - about 15 minutes. Leave the butter out to come to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and butter or grease a 9x9 pan or 12 muffin pans.
Step two: Use a stand mixer or hand mixer to beat the butter in a large mixing bowl until fluffy. Then add the honey, eggs, molasses, and vanilla, and mix until incorporated.
Step three: Once the apricots are softened, puree them with the water using a blender, food processor, or immersion blender until mostly smooth with some chunks.
Step four: Pour the pureed apricots into the wet mixture and mix to combine.
Step five: Add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt to the wet ingredients and gently mix with a whisk or spatula until just combined. The mixture will be very fluffy as the baking soda and honey react.
Step six: Transfer this to the prepared baking dish. Only fill them half way for the best results because they will rise! Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. While they bake - make the toffee sauce.
Step seven: Melt the butter and honey together in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir slightly and let it simmer for 10 minutes until slightly thickened and darker in color.
Step eight: Add the cream slowly while continuing to whisk. Allow to just come to boil (keep stirring!) and then remove the saucepan from the heat. Let stand for 5-10 minutes to cool slightly.
Step nine: When the cake (or cakes) is done, remove it from the oven and allow them to cool just enough to handle. Then flip them out of the pan carefully. Pour the warm toffee sauce over the cake and top with crystalized ginger, and salt, and enjoy with a little vanilla ice cream!
Watch How to Make This - Step by Step
Is your toffee sauce not thick enough? Just keep simmering and stirring! The longer it cooks, the thicker it'll get with the cornstarch in it. Just be sure to keep stirring because if you don't the cream will curdle.
Facts and Common Questions
Dates are traditionally used in sticky toffee pudding to keep the sponge cake moist. They're also readily available and enhance the caramelized flavor of the pudding.
Dates are technically optional for sticky toffee pudding, but for substituting you can use just about any dried fruit with a pit. This is because they will all be very sweet and similar in texture. You can use prunes, apricots, plums, etc., as substitutes for dates.
Yup! Just freeze this easy sticky toffee pudding without dates on its own, without the sauce. I like to freeze mine individually or in slices so I can take out only what I need at a time.
Want to Save it for Later? Here’s how!
This cake keeps exceptionally well, as long as you don’t try to freeze the toffee sauce.
Fridge: To store in the fridge, simply cover the cake in plastic wrap or in an airtight container and store for up to 1 week in the fridge. It's actually best to store it this way with the toffee sauce poured over it. The sauce will help keep the cake from drying out in the fridge.
Freezer: For the freezer, you can freeze it with the toffee sauce on top, but it will be harder to reheat. Preferably, you can wrap each piece individually without sauce and then place them in a storage container or a large ziplock bag. This way, you can just take out however many pieces you would like. You will need to remake the toffee sauce when ready to eat.
Reheating: To reheat toffee sauce, just microwaving it in 15 second increments and stir between each round. You can also reheat it on the stove top until heated through.
To reheat the cake from the fridge, just microwave for 30 seconds. To reheat from frozen, let the cake thaw overnight in the fridge or heat in 15 second increments in the microwave until heated through.
Sticky toffee pudding is a sponge cake with chopped dates and toffee sauce that was invented in the 1940’s. The story goes that two Canadian air force officers gave a similar recipe to a British hotel manager hoping she could make it for them while they were homesick and stationed in England during World War II. Years later, this recipe was given to another hotel employee who turned around and sold it to patrons. There is also a very similar Australian version called sticky date pudding. (source)
More Joyful Recipes!
Need more to make after this dateless sticky toffee pudding recipe? Try these!
Did you try this and love it? Leave us a review, we would love to hear from you!
Cake Pudding Ingredients
- 1 cup apricots dried, about 7 oz
- 1 cup water boiling
- ¼ cup butter softened, unsalted
- 2 eggs
- ¾ cup honey
- 1 tablespoon molasses
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1-½ cup all purpose flour
- 1-¼ teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ginger ground
- ¼ cup butter unsalted
- ¾ cup honey
- ¼ cup half and half
- 1.5 teaspoon corn starch
- salt and ginger for topping
- Prep by bringing water to a boil either in the microwave, with a kettle, or on the stove top. Add the hot water and the apricots to a heat safe bowl and cover with a plate. Let this sit until the water has cooled and the fruit is soft - about 15 minutes. Leave butter out to come to room temp. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and butter or grease a 9x9 pan or 12 muffin pans.
- Use a stand mixer or hand mixer to beat the butter until fluffy in a large mixing bowl. Then add the honey, eggs, molasses, and vanilla and mix until incorporated.
- Once the apricots are softened, puree them with the water using a blender, food processor, or immersion blender until mostly smooth but a few chunks remain.
- Pour the pureed apricots into the wet mixture and mix to combine.
- Add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt to the wet ingredients and gently mix with a whisk or spatula until just combined. The mixture will be very fluffy as the baking soda and honey react.
- Transfer this to the prepared baking dish but only fill them half way for best results because they will rise! Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. While it bakes - make the toffee sauce.
- Melt the butter and honey together in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir slightly and let it simmer for 10 minutes until slightly thickened and darker in color.
- Add the cream slowly while continuing to whisk. Allow to just come to boil (keep stirring!) and then remove the saucepan from the heat. Let stand for 5-10 minutes to cool slightly.
- When the cake (or cakes) is done, remove from the oven and allow them to cool just enough to handle. Then flip them out of the pan carefully. Pour the warm toffee sauce over the cake and top with crystalized ginger and salt. Enjoy!