It began with a simple question:  “Hey Mom, have you ever put together a list of your favorite children’s books?” 

As a matter of fact, I hadn’t… which seems odd, because I have been obsessed with children’s books since I was a child myself. When I find myself in a bookstore, I must explore the new titles in this order: Cookbooks, Childrens, Fiction.   So my daughter and I spent an entire evening this week compiling a crazy-long list of some of our favorite children’s chapter books.  It got a little out of control.  We spent a lot of time reading.  We still do.  I thought it would be fun to share it, so in no particular order, here we go:

Orphans and magic and history and friendships and adventures and baddies… what wonderful memories these books bring.  In You’ve Got Mail (one of my favorite movies of all time), I love the moment when Kathleen Kelly (played by Meg Ryan) reminisces about her mom in the small bookshop they owned.  “I started helping my mother after school here when I was six years old. And I used to watch her. And it wasn’t that she was just selling books, it was that she was helping people become whoever it was that they were going to turn out to be. Because when you read a book as a child it becomes part of your identity in a way that no other reading in your whole life does…”  So true. I’m a person who is forever asking kids what they’ve been reading, and encouraging them to read as many of my favorites as possible.

The only thing better than curling up with a great book is curling up with a great book and a nice slice of cake.  As so very many of the books on our list our British, I’ve baked the British classic… a warm, comforting Sticky Toffee Pudding.

I find the traditional sticky toffee pudding can err on the edge of cloyingly sweet… so years ago, I started tinkering with a gingerbready version.  It has evolved to the recipe you see below made with brown sugar, spices, and finely diced crystallized ginger.  If you love ginger, you’ll love this version.

I suppose if I had created the cake when my children were still… children… I wouldn’t have laced the warm caramel sauce with quite so much bourbon.  But they’re all nearly grown now.  Not to worry, I’ve made the cake dozens of times over the years, and it’s scrumptious without bourbon in the caramel sauce.

And while you’re enjoying a slice of cake, might I suggest you curl up with one of your favorite children’s books?

One year ago: Foccaccia with Caramelized Onions, Goat Cheese and Zahtar


Ginger Sticky Toffee Pudding
Serves: 10-12
  • For the Cake:
  • 1 pound dates, pitted and chopped
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2½ cups all purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon cloves
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoons baking powder
  • ¼ cup finely chopped crystalized ginger
  • For the Caramel Sauce:
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon (you can substitute vanilla)
  • Vanilla ice cream or whipped cream, for serving
  1. Directions
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 10-inch bundt pan.
  3. Place the dates in large saucepan with 3½ cups cold water. Bring to boil, stirring a little to break up the dates. Then leave to simmer for 1 minute before removing from the heat. Stir in the baking soda (which will cause the mixture to bubble up).
  4. Cream the butter and sugar together in a standing mixer until pale and creamy, 4-5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, occasionally scraping down mixing bowl. Add the vanilla extract and then the flour, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and salt and mix briefly. The dough will still be lumpy at this point.
  5. Next, add the warm date mixture in two batches. Scrape down the sides of bowl in between mixing. The dough will now be quite watery - not to worry, this is as it should be, Add the baking powder (this will bubble up also). Finally, add the crystallized ginger.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared bundt pan. Bake for about an hour to an hour and 10 minutes. Test with a small knife or toothpick, it should come out clean when cake is done. Let it rest on a wire rack for about 10 minutes before un-molding.
  7. Meanwhile, to make the sauce, combine the butter, brown sugar, heavy cream and bourbon in a medium saucepan. Bring to boil and then reduce to simmer gently for a minute or two until thickened and well blended.
  8. Prick the cake all over with a toothpick - this will enable the sauce to be absorbed more easily. Pour the caramel sauce over cakes while both are still warm and leave to soak for about 10 minutes. I like to pour lots into the space in the middle of the cake, and spoon a bit of extra sauce onto the cake as I serve it.
  9. Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.
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17 Responses to "Ginger Sticky Toffee Pudding"
  1. Meg says:

    Thank you so much for taking the time to write this amazing list of books! I’m off to the library!

  2. Judi Graber says:

    Great list of children’s books – I have read a few and even when I was working on my BA, majoring in English I got to read a lot more children’s books. Your pudding looks yummy – I don’t cook with dates very often and I need to. Thanks for sharing and Happy FF 🙂

  3. What a huge list of books. I think I couldn’t even name as many children’s books. 🙂 I would, however, love to curl up with a book and a slice of this cake. It looks so delicious!
    And I absolutely love your cake tin, it is so beautiful.
    Happy FIesta Friday. 🙂

    • mb says:

      I have always been a bit of an obsessive reader… I should really create a list of “grown-up” books as well 🙂

  4. Kristin says:

    So many shared favorites, MB! I knew we were kindred spirits when it came to books. Now I only wish I could bake like you. The cake looks divine!

  5. Yum, this cake looks amazing MB!
    Love the list of children’s books too, so many good ones in there! The Harry Potter books will still always hold a special place in my hear though, I think it’s because I literally grew up with them, the first one came out when I was 11 and the last one came out when I was 21, and I loved every single one!

    • mb says:

      You’re so much younger than me, Michelle! I think the first Harry Potter came out when my oldest child was 6 or 7… I read them to the kids until tye were old enough to read themselves. For the later books, we would all be fighting over the one copy. For the last book, we actually bought multiple copies to keep the peace 🙂

  6. Sadia says:

    Sticky toffee pudding!! Yummilicious. Love the cake tin you used. Beautiful!

    • mb says:

      Come to think of it, that cake tin belongs to a friend of mine… I need to return it 🙂 But thanks!

  7. I grew up going to our city library and began my love of reading young. I did the same with my children. Your Sticky toffee pudding looks just delicious! I could sure use a piece or two.

  8. Michelle says:

    Great list. A Wrinkle in Time, Charlotte’s Web and From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler just about sum up childhood reading to me (though I’d add the Ramona series). Great looking pudding, too!

  9. skd says:

    The pudding looks so yum. You made me nostalgic. As a child my favorite summer pastime was to curl up with an Enid Blyton and a delicious snack made by my mom. Enid Blyton loved to talk about food in all her books. Reading her books made me hungry always lol 🙂

  10. I’ve just stumbled across your blog, I’m definitely late to your party. I’ve spent the last half hour reading all your posts. Sticky toffee pudding is my FAVOURITE, literally dribbling over this. You’re brilliant!

  11. I love love this pudding. I pinned it some time ago. But now I am going to give you some pats on the back. I am a loooooong time reader. I also love the book list. Brought up
    a lot of memories.

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