The Classic British Bake Off
The Classic British Bake Off
As the UK heads back to the 1970s, Tim Schilling joins the retro party by creating this trio of pre-EU desserts with a coffee twist
Tim Schilling

Is it Bake Offseason again already? My goodness, a whole 10 weeks of Prue’s dodgy necklaces, Noel and Sandi’s innuendos, and Paul handing out handshakes far too frequently… how else would you rather spend your Tuesday evenings? Well, I have one suggestion: you could always try playing the bakers at their own game by whipping up one of these desserts in time for your weekly installment of troublesome technicals.

I’ve picked three quintessentially British desserts that will almost certainly be familiar to anyone who spent time in their grandparents’ kitchen. My grandmother always used to tell me that when it came to writing, the simplest English is the best, and I think the same is true of pudding. Forget about that elegant petit gateau posing in the patisserie window with its genoise sponge and shiny glaçage. Get yourself a slab of warm sticky pudding, slather it in sauce and wolf that thing down like there’s no tomorrow (insert your own Brexit joke here).

Of course, I’ve added a twist to all these desserts in the form of coffee. Some might call me a heretic, but this is Caffeine, not Classic Pudding Monthly – and I’m not reinventing the wheel here. Rather, I’ve used coffee as a lens through which to interpret these suppertime classics. It’s amazing what a few tasting notes can inspire.

So without further ado, shake off that apron, swap that stiff upper lip for some stiff peaks, and show those TV bakers how it’s done!

Sticky coffee pudding

Few desserts are more comforting than the sticky toffee pudding. This amalgam of all things sweet and fudgy hails from the luxury Sharrow Bay Hotel in the Lake District, where it was developed by chef Francis Coulman in the 1970s, and it has since earned its place in the British culinary canon. The original recipe is so secret that chefs of the hotel must sign an agreement not to disclose it or even use it anywhere else after employment. Don’t worry – I’ve developed my recipe based on one from the Savoy, where there is no such rule!

I’ve used the incredible Conker Cold Brew coffee liqueur to give this classic its Caffeine twist. Created in Dorset, Conker uses specialty-grade Ethiopian and Brazilian coffees to make the liqueur along with demerara sugar and distilled British wheat spirit. It has a real depth of coffee flavor, with hints of molasses and vanilla, and works wonders in the pudding and accompanying sauce.

For the pudding

300g pitted dates

250g Conker Cold Brew coffee liqueur

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Issue 41