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March 16, 2016

EmmaOur Export and UK Sales Executive Emma loves baking from Gee Charman’s Guilt-Free Baking, and sharing her cakes with us in the office. We can’t wait to try her sweets, that normally don’t last more than five minutes, and also become a good opportunity to have a little chat during a busy day. And all guilt-free! This time Emma surprised us with a Sticky Toffee Tray Bake, and it was truly delicious. You can follow Emma on Instagram.

My favourite baking book at the moment is Guilt Free Baking and that’s not because I’m slightly biased, but because everything I’ve baked from it so far has been delicious! I’m no baking whizz but I do love the exactness of baking – follow the recipe, how can you possibly go wrong? So I saw the sticky toffee tray bake recipe whilst browsing this book (for maybe the hundredth time) and had to give it a go. It’s particularly great for sharing in the office (maybe), and easy to transport. Perfect!

guilt-free baking

Firstly pre-heat your oven. I always forget and have to wait… 180/350/Gas mark 4. Also prepare your tray. I used a 12 x 8 inch tray, but you could easily use a couple of smaller ones and be creative with your portion sizes.

The thing I liked about the recipe is that there are not hundreds of complicated or expensive ingredients to buy. They’re all ingredients that you would have in your kitchen, with very little buying needed. If you have a food processor, the next part is easy. I realised a little late on that our hand blender at home wasn’t going to make this a simple step. But in the face of this challenge, I persevered and managed to blend the dates to within an inch of their datey life. With the dates, add the vanilla coffee essence and the bicarbonate of soda. I found adding the warm water helped with my lack of food processor as I pulverised them into a smooth puree.

Guilt Free baking

Next the butter and sugar is beaten together in a separate bowl until it’s light and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time so as not to curdle your mix. Once these are in, it’s time to add the date mixture. Now, this next bit is a delicate affair so please be patient with this otherwise you will end up with scrambled egg. I’ve not tried egg and toffee pudding before, maybe it’s the next thing, but I didn’t feel it was appropriate to share this with the team. Add the mixture in little by little folding gently, and finally fold in the flour.

Guit free baking 2

Now you have everything combined, add this to your tin(s) and bake for 30 minutes until a skewer or kitchen knife inserted into the middle comes out clean. Leave this to cool in the tin for now, or if you’re particularly brave (impatient) you could take it out and leave to cool on a rack so it cools quicker.

Whilst waiting patiently for the bake to cool, you can make the sauce. It is both easy to make and delicious. Pour the condensed milk, sugar and butter into a saucepan and gently melt it together for a few minutes until it starts to turn darker brown and thickens up.

This isn’t in the directions, but I cut the bake before pouring over the sticky toffee mixture. There’s guidance for portions per recipe, which gives you an idea of your calorie intake if you stick to it. Though to be honest when you’ve made many of these recipes, calories fly out the window! I found that having pre-sliced the bake, the toffee went everywhere. In my opinion, this is a GOOD thing!


The photos are courtesy of my glamorous assistant, and partner Maria who had first choice on which square to have first. Again, the recipe doesn’t say this but we had a (small) spoon of cream on the side. I’ve had several sticky toffee puddings but this definitely went down as one of the more delicious versions. You’ll be pleased to know that this will keep for up to five days if you have an air tight container to store it in. Though to be honest if you work in an office like ours, any sweet treat won’t last more than five minutes!

350g/12oz/2 cups pitted dates
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 tbsp coffee essence
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
75g/2½oz butter, softened
200g/7oz/heaped ¾ cup caster sugar
4 eggs
400g/14oz/3¼ cups self-raising flour

For the sauce:
150ml/5fl oz/scant ⅔ cup light condensed milk
100g/3½oz/heaped ½ cup dark soft brown sugar
50g/1¾oz butter


Gee Charman
Guilt-Free Baking
Available from Nourish in August 2015



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