Ori and I both love a classic sticky toffee pudding, but it can be aggressively sweet. All of that sugar serves a purpose, though, providing moisture for the cake’s signature puddinglike texture. If you cut back on the sugar and dates, the cake dries out and loses flavor; add in more fat and it becomes too heavy. My solution, then, is to use apples and prunes, both of which add moisture and that great sharp, sticky flavor but without the cloying sweetness. Instead of putting the dates in the cake, I work them into a buttery sauce that completes the elegant dessert. Or leave the cake plain and enjoy a slice for breakfast or afternoon tea.
- In a bowl, combine the prunes, Armagnac, and apple cider. Cover and let soak for at least 1 hour or up to overnight in the refrigerator.
- In a separate bowl, combine the all-purpose and einkorn flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cardamom, and cinnamon and thoroughly whisk together. Set aside.
- After at least 1 hour of soaking, add the prune mix¬ture to a saucepan over medium-low heat and cook until the prunes are soft and mostly broken down, 5 to 7 minutes. Set aside and let cool to room temperature, then stir in the apples.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Generously butter a 9-inch cake pan.
- In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, 7 to 10 minutes. Scrape down the bowl, then add the vanilla and cream until combined. Scrape down the bowl once again and add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Once the eggs are fully incorporated, on the lowest speed, alternate adding the wet and dry ingredients in two batches each, starting with the wet and ending with the dry and scraping down the bowl after each addition. Be sure not to overmix.
- Pour the batter into the pan and bake for about 24 minutes, until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out with moist crumbs and no wet batter. Let the cake cool in the pan for 15 to 20 minutes, then slice and serve while still warm, with warm toffee sauce and a dollop of whipped crème fraiche on the side. If not serving right away, leave the cake in the pan to cool completely. When ready to serve, rewarm the cake in the pan in the oven at 350°F for 5 to 7 minutes, until warm. Then slice and serve. If you wish to present the cake whole, cool it in the pan for 15 to 20 minutes, then turn the full cake out of the pan onto a serving platter.
- Combine the date syrup, sugar, salt, butter, and cream in a small saucepan and place over medium heat. Whisk to thoroughly combine. Remove from the heat once the sauce comes together. Use immediately or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat in a saucepan, while stirring with a spoon or whisk, until hot.
- In a small bowl, combine the cream and crème fraiche. Whisk vigorously until firm peaks form. Serve immediately.
Reprinted with permission from Bavel: Modern Recipes Inspired by the Middle East by Ori Menashe, Genevieve Gergis and Lesley Suter, copyright © 2021. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House. Photographs copyright © 2021 by Nicole Franzen