I have pondered this legend and the original recipe – which is said to be locked away in the hotel’s vault – while I was enjoying the first spring sun on the Victorian steamer on Ullswater.
We passed the hotel and, of course, the voice on the boat mentioned that the sticky toffee pudding was invented there. But it wouldn’t be a pudding without other counties competing over its origins. Yorkshire claims that sticky toffee pudding was invented in 1907 by the landlady of the Gait Inn in Millington; and of course the Scots claim it as their own, insisting it was first served in the Udny Arms Hotel in Newburgh, Aberdeenshire, in 1967.
Many have tried to trace the original recipe so I share with you my own. This pudding is made with prunes instead of the traditional dates. But feel free to use dates; I just don’t care for them. As with all my personal recipes, I try to reduce the sugar content because I find that sugar can take over the flavour and I do not enjoy a sugar headache.
In this delightful pudding, which has won many of my friends over to the idea of British food, I use a very more-ish apple butter (appelstroop) from Belgium. The syrup is very thick, like treacle, and although sweet, it has some acidity too which works very nicely with the sweetness of the pudding. You can use extra sugar instead.