Here was my brief. A birthday celebration pudding made without refined sugar, dairy, gluten or cocoa. Yes, I did despair. I lamented. I wailed and pleaded. In normal circumstances the obvious option was to make the preferred pudding of the birthday girl, a sticky toffee pudding.  Was this possible without all the traditional ingredients? I refused to be beaten. They could take my sugar but they could never take my baking spirit.



In today’s world so many people have dietary needs and requests.  This can present a challenge but it was actually really interesting exploring the various options. I did, however, have to tolerate the chorus of some family members ‘Gluten free, sugar free, dairy free….taste free’ as they anticipated their dessert. Would I prove them wrong?


This is a pudding that took a lot of research. It takes time to plan how to  replace the fundaments of baking – butter, sugar and flour. In the end, however, it was a triumph. This recipe does contain eggs, which made it a little easier to get a nice light pudding. It was certainly a lighter mix than a classic sticky toffee pudding, but it had a good texture and sweet, light crumb. Ground almonds, mixed with the gluten free flour, made it moist and reminiscent of a traditional sticky toffee pudding. The dates adds those occasionally toffee-esque chewy bits. The bit of spice adds a layer of darker sweetness that makes it more credible as toffee! I was given a minor reprieve on the sauce.  I was allowed use some brown sugar with the coconut milk to produce a sweet and creamy topping. If you are stricter than my dining companions on the refined sugar part, palm sugar or another sweetener could be used.

This really needs to be served warm to be at it’s best, but will sit for about half an hour after it’s baked, and still be soft and a little sticky when served.

The best testimonial I could have ever had was the surprised utterance of my brother in law … ‘It actually tastes nice, like a normal cake’.

Pudding Ingredients

  • 250 grams fresh pitted dates
  • 80 ml of boiling water
  • 100 grams coconut oil or  butter, softened (if you’re not worried about dairy!)
  • 115 grams maple syrup or agave nectar (Maple  syrup has a nice flavour I think)
  • 75 ml ‘nut’ milk (unsweetened)
  • 3 eggs
  • 150 grams ground almonds
  • 180 grams gluten free flour (I like Dove’s farm)
  • 1½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • Add 25 grams of chopped pecans if you like

Toffee sauce Ingredients

  • 90 grams coconut palm sugar or brown sugar if you’re allowed a treat
  • 1 tin of full fat coconut milk
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract

Pudding Method

1. Preheat oven to 170 degrees. Grease six mini bundt tins or a muffin tin. You could also use ramekin dishes. Coconut oil can be used to grease the tins.
2. Place the dates with the boiling water in a saucepan and simmer gently for 5 minutes. This hydrates and softens the dates.
3. Use a food processor to blend  the soaked dates once they cool a little. Try to get it as smooth as possible but a few chunks are no harm!


4. Melt the coconut oil and mix with the with the maple syrup.
5. Mix with the sugar and maple syrup, before beating in the eggs, vanilla extract and milk.
6. Mix the flour, baking soda, and spices  together in a small bowl. make sure there are no lumps by whisking or sieving the dry ingredients.
7. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet and stir until it is all just combined.

8. Pour the batter into the bundt tins, ramekins or muffin tray.
9. Place the tins into a roasting dish with boiling water coming about halfway up the side of the ramekins, bundt tins or muffin tins.

10. Bake for 20 – 30 minutes depending on how big your containers are. It should look risen and golden, but will be slightly sticky inside if you test with a skewer.

The puddings are best served warm.  Leaving them sitting in the hot water with keep them warm for about half an hour, which can make serving it as a dessert easier.

Toffee sauce method

1. Combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan, bring to a boil and simmer for five minutes. Stir it continuously.
Mine was quiet pale and runny, but boil for longer if you want it darker and thicker.

2. Plate up and pour on the sauce!

If you’re baking ‘without’, check out these gluten free Red Velvet Cupcakes and these Almond and Peanut butter cookies that are dairy and gluten free.



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