This blog is a celebration of the wonderful world of vegan cooking. Enjoy!

* The title of this blog refutes the dangerous idea that veganism is a weight-loss diet and that all vegans are skinny. Conversely, being a-not-so-skinny-vegan is also not the same as being overweight or unhealthy. All food intake must be part of a balanced lifestyle.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Oil-Free Sugar-Free Sticky Toffee Pudding

I recently went to a vegan baking evening hosted by the Cambridge Carbon Footprint group who put on a variety of events to raise awareness about climate change and sustainable living. Unfortunately, the evening was aimed more at omnivores who wanted an introduction to vegan baking rather than vegans who had been baking for quite a while. Also, the two recipes we made (Sticky Toffee Pudding and Mexican Hot Chocolate Snickerdoodles) were packed full of refined sugar. But I met some lovely people and still had a great evening so it was well worth it.

I've recently been trying to avoid eating sugar as part of a regime to stabilise my blood sugar levels in order to avoid migraines. Any slight addiction to anything seems to be enough to put me in some sort of withdrawal which can start a headache which can then turn into a eleven day head pounding marathon. So despite the pudding and snickerdoodles being rather delicious, I wanted to try to come up with a recipe that did not use sugar.

The recipe I came up with uses dates to sweeten the cake and dates and maple syrup to make the toffee sauce. Now, I'm not suggesting that maple syrup is better than sugar. However, I figured that it would be better to come up with a recipe that doesn't use sugar so that I get out of the habit of using it. The maple syrup could easily be replaced by agave nectar, brown rice syrup, date syrup etc which tend to have lower glycemic indexes (although that does not necessarily equate to them being better for you). I used maple syrup because I had it on hand.

The recipe also uses quite a lot of maple syrup for the toffee sauce. This is mostly because the original recipe had both sugar and golden syrup with melted butter and so it was difficult to get the right consistency with the dates. You could easily double the amount of dates and add 80ml (1/3 of cup) of water in with the dates and milk when you boil them for the sauce and then only add a small amount of maple (or otherwise) syrup to taste. You could also easily halve the amount of toffee sauce and still have enough to complement the cake.

The biggest problem with me baking by experiment is that I end up eating all of the experiments. So I decided that perhaps it might be best to try to cut the vegan butter out of this recipe too hence why it's an oil-free sugar-free sticky toffee pudding. I will post another version that I adapted from the original recipe with all of the tasty, naughty stuff in it (although still not as much as in the original recipe!) at a later date.

The recipe uses soya milk and soya yoghurt so will only be sugar-free if your soya milk and soya yoghurt are sugar-free. It's easy enough to get unsweetened soya milk but it might be a little bit trickier to get unsweetened soya yoghurt unless you make your own. Alternatively, you could use 1/4 cup mashed silken tofu or more soya milk instead.


Oil-Free Sugar-Free Sticky Toffee Pudding


250ml (1 cup) unsweetened soya milk
100ml (slightly < 1/2 cup) water
200g pitted dates*, halved
1 level tsp bicarb soda
50ml (1/4 cup) unsweetened soya yoghurt
200g (1&1/3 cups) self-raising flour
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon

Toffee Sauce:

75g (approx. 8) pitted dates
150ml soya milk
80ml maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla essence


Preheat oven to 190C/Gas Mark 5/375F.

Line a 20cm x 20cm shallow cake tin with baking paper.

Put the dates in a small saucepan and cover with soya milk and water. Simmer until dates are soft then take off heat and stir in bicarb soda. It should froth. Leave to cool.

Mix the spices into the flour in a small bowl.

Place the yoghurt into a large bowl and stir in the cooled date mixture. Sift and fold in the flour. Spoon cake mixture into prepared tin and bake for 25-30 minutes until cake springs back when touched.

Allow cake to cool then prick the top of the pudding all over. Pour on the toffee sauce incrementally, allowing the sauce to seep into the cake before adding more.

Toffee Sauce:

Roughly chop the dates and cover with soya milk in a small saucepan and simmer until dates are soft. Leave to cool slightly, add maple syrup and vanilla essence then transfer to a food processor or blender**. Blend until smooth.

*I prefer medjool dates.
**Please make sure your food processor or blender can handle hot liquids and is not glass. If it cannot, wait for the dates to cool completely and then carry on as per instructions.

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