Sheet Pan

Sheet-Pan Sticky Toffee Pudding Cake

November 19, 2018
7 Ratings
Photo by Julia Gartland
  • Prep time 10 minutes
  • Cook time 30 minutes
  • Serves 16 to 20
Author Notes

Loosely adapted from Nigella Lawson's Sticky Toffee Pudding dessert from her cookbook, Nigella Bites, this sheet-pan version is one of my favorite things to make for guests during the colder months. I love this cake because it's one of those things I'm able to throw together when it seems I have nothing in my pantry and fridge. All it needs are the usual suspects, things like brown sugar, butter, flour, eggs, and milk—plus chopped dates. I often make this without the dates, but they're the ingredient that gives the dessert its signature flavor and squidge.

The important thing is to trust in Nigella's technique (it's a quirky one!): Once you spread the very simple batter out onto the sheet pan, you dot the cake with brown sugar, blobs of butter, and *pour* hot water (yes, hot water) all over the top. As this water-filled pan bakes in the oven, the liquid mixes with the butter and sugar and amalgamates into a luscious sauce. The sauce also inverts with the cake, so the batter bakes up into a tender sponge on top, while sticky toffee ends up on bottom. It's a very satisfying thing to watch happen, but requires a little faith. —Eric Kim

Test Kitchen Notes

Featured in: Dinner for 20—for Under $100? It Can Be Done. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • Cake
  • 1 stick salted butter, melted
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 pinch kosher salt
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup chopped dates
  • "Sauce"
  • 2 cups packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 stick salted butter
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1/2 gallon vanilla ice cream, for serving
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F and butter an 18x13-inch half sheet pan.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the melted butter, brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract. Dump in the flour, baking powder, salt, and milk, and stir until smooth. Fold in the chopped dates. Spread batter out onto the buttered sheet pan.
  3. For the “sauce,” sprinkle over the 2 cups of brown sugar and dot with the 1/2 stick of butter. Pour the boiling water all over the top of the cake (trust me!) and carefully transfer to the oven. Bake for 30 minutes or until caramelized on top. Serve with vanilla ice cream.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Sammi Flinkton
    Sammi Flinkton
  • Nancy Henderson
    Nancy Henderson
  • Eric Kim
    Eric Kim
  • Sabine Gagnon
    Sabine Gagnon
Eric Kim was the Table for One columnist at Food52. He is currently working on his first cookbook, KOREAN AMERICAN, to be published by Clarkson Potter in 2022. His favorite writers are William Faulkner, John Steinbeck, and Ernest Hemingway, but his hero is Nigella Lawson. You can find his bylines at The New York Times, where he works now as a writer. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @ericjoonho.

11 Reviews

Eliza W. December 25, 2022
This recipe is nothing short of incredible. I didn’t have the right size baking sheet on hand so I used my large pyrex dish and it worked so well. It was perfect to see the sauce bubbling at the bottom and also ensure the cake on top was baked to our liking. It was such an easy recipe to throw in the oven for our Christmas pudding while we enjoyed dinner and serve up warm immediately making it seem effortless! I even prepped my dry ingredients in a tupperware in advance so I could just dump and pour everything before we sat down to dinner.

The boiling water piece was also the best party trick. People were so confused and astounded by the method of making this dish it was fun to do together and then see how well it came out!
aclincol December 31, 2021
This recipe was really easy, which was nice. But with the amount of butter and sugar in sticky toffee pudding it needed to be phenomenal and it just didn't quite get there for me.
Sammi F. May 29, 2020
The first time I had sticky toffee pudding was actually from a Japanese sushi restaurant on Vancouver Island BC. My entire family and I were hooked! I'm going to use dried medjool dates for this recipe. Should I depitt them and soak them beforehand or can I just depitt and chop them up? Thanks
Sammi F. May 29, 2020
oops sorry posted in the reviews instead of questions forum:(
Nancy H. December 27, 2018
Giant hit. 14 for dinner. Prepped as much as I could in the afternoon and then just threw it all together when dinner was finished. Served warm with option of a spoonful of plain whipped cream or ice cream. Perfect! Rave reviews from children and adults alike. a simple tasty keeper recipe for a crowd. thanks!
Eric K. December 28, 2018
Oh my god! That makes me so happy. Thanks for sharing, Nancy.
Sabine G. January 3, 2019
Is this ok served next day room temperature?I was going to bake a 1/2 day ahead of time for a family getaway trip.
Kristen January 21, 2019
Not sure about this recipe in particular, but in the UK sticky toffee pudding is always served warm and that really is key because of the caramel sauce. Maybe you could rewarm the entire pan(?). I would probably pick a different dessert.
Laura R. February 5, 2020
How deep was the pan you used? I have an 18 x 13 pan but not sure if it is deep enough.
Eric K. February 7, 2020
Hi Laura, just a regular sheet pan (1-inch deep).
Laura R. February 7, 2020
Thank-you! I made it today and it was a hit!