She may live in a palace and rock a tiara, but Kate Middleton's preferred dessert is reported to be wonderfully, unexpectedly plain-looking: sticky toffee pudding. A classic British treat that involves a rather lumpy cake covered in a gooey sauce, it actually has impressively nuanced flavor—and is arguably way more sophisticated than any layered jumble of cake, cream and fruit such as the trifle (another dessert the country has made famous).

We should note, it's not a pudding in the American sense of the word; instead, it's a soft, moist cake that slumps a bit and lives up to its "sticky" moniker, thanks to a load of dates which you soften in boiling water before pureeing and mixing into the batter. Once it's cooled slightly, you top the pudding with a silky, warm caramel sauce. It's sweet but not cloying, and serving the pudding alongside whipped cream or vanilla ice cream gives it the perfect balance between sweet and rich.

Sticky toffee pudding is also surprisingly easy to make. This recipe, from the Old Boot Inn in Stanford Dingley, a village in Berkshire, England, is said to be one the duchess adores, and it's doable for even a novice. You liberally coat a square baking pan with butter (it's a lot of butter—4 1/2 tablespoons—which is about 3 1/2 tablespoons more than we would normally use to grease a pan) and then flour it. The batter is a straightforward mixture of flour and various sweeteners, including brown sugar and molasses. This recipe also calls for Lyle's Golden Syrup, which may be a staple among English bakers but isn't widely available in the U.S. We used light corn syrup as a substitute (the recipe only calls for a tablespoon) and it worked just fine, though you could mix the corn syrup with a bit of honey for an even warmer note.

You bake the pudding in a water bath, which keeps the batter moist, by simply placing the batter-filled pan in a larger pan, adding enough boiling-hot water to reach halfway up the side of the smaller pan and sliding everything into the oven to bake for about 35 minutes. When the top of the cake is just firm, you remove it from the oven, let it cool for a few minutes and cut it into squares. To make the caramel sauce, simmer a combination of sugar, butter and heavy cream until it coats the back of a spoon. Pour a few spoonfuls of the sauce over the squares of pudding, top with vanilla ice cream and break out your good silverware.

Get the recipe: Kate Middleton's Favorite Sticky Toffee Pudding


Next Story