The new year often presents a mixture of emotions. On the one hand, we’re all making big goals, promising grand gestures and feeling optimistic about the opportunities ahead. But, with post-holiday blues, a tightened budget and a seemingly endless to-do list to make those goals a reality, it’s no wonder that excitement turns to panic fairly fast. January brings a battle between wanting to dream big and feeling obligated to scale back. But this is where we often see our resolutions fail. By inhibiting ourselves and and not truly relishing the brilliant prospects of this new start, we almost submit ourselves to misery and doubt. Well, not this time. This time we are riding the holiday high, staying merry and continuing to embrace joy and indulgence as a running theme for 2017.
We’re kicking off my first recipe of the year with this glorious sticky toffee loaf – a twist on my absolute favourite pudding. It’s a celebration of the new year and a commitment to living indulgently and putting happiness first.
It’s hard not to feel enthusiastic about sticky toffee anything. Could there be a more wondrous entity? A sweet and gooey toffee cake doused in sweet and gooey toffee sauce. It is the ultimate indulgence with tonnes of decadence and heart. That is exactly how I want my year to play out. As they often say (though I’m not always inclined to agree), you are what you eat. With a lot of sweetness and a bit of spice, this loaf really is made of all things nice.
For the loaf
- 3/4 cup buckwheat flour
- 3/4 cup ground almonds
- 1/2 cup oats
- 2 tablespoons milled flaxseed mixed with 6 tablespoons of water (allow to set for 10 minutes)
- 8 medjool dates (1 cup) soaked in half a cup of boiling water for 20 minutes
- 2 small/medium apples
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/2 a teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- Pinch of salt
For the toffee sauce
- 6 medjool dates (soaked in boiling water for 20 minutes)
- 1/2 cup almond milk
- 1 vanilla pod
- Salt to taste
- Star anise
- A handful of crushed pecans
Pre-heat your oven to 150°C.
Prepare your flax mixture and soak your dates for the loaf. Core your apples and slice into chunks, then cover in boiling water and simmer on the stovetop until you can easily pierce them with a fork. Once ready, place the apples and dates (with the water) in a blender and blend until smooth. Place the puree to one side while you prepare the dry ingredients.
Place your oats in a food processor or blender and finely mill until flour-like. Sift into a mixing bowl along with the ground almonds and buckwheat flour. Add your cinnamon, ginger and salt and mix with the flours. Then, add your baking powder and soda in one place on top and pour the apple cider vinegar over it. Allow to react for at least 30 seconds – this helps the loaf rise.
Add your flax mixture, apple and date puree and coconut oil and mix everything together to form a thick and sticky batter. Transfer this to a lined or greased loaf tin and bake in the oven for 40-55 minutes, until you can insert a knife into the centre and it comes out clean. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack and letting cool for a further 10. Make the toffee sauce in the meantime.
For the toffee sauce
To make the sauce, simply place the dates (no water this time), almond milk and seeds scraped from a vanilla pod (keep the pod) in a blender and blend until completely smooth. Then, transfer this to a small saucepan, add the vanilla pod for infusion and gently warm through. Remove the vanilla pod once warm.
To decorate the loaf, drizzle some of the sauce over the top and garnish with some star anise and a sprinkling of chopped pecan. Slice and serve with an extra drizzle of toffee sauce (plus some ice cream if you like) and enjoy!