Graham is so determined that Elsie will give him and his film production a chance that he pulls out all the stops with a lovely dinner after her day of screen tests at Proscenium Studios in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. He even goes so far as to google the most delicious dessert in the world so that his housekeeper can create the perfect end to the meal: English Sticky Toffee Pudding.
Eventually, Elsie’s mother puts her own Pennsylvanian spin on this delicious dessert in an Oak Hills sequel. She substitutes apples for dates, adds some molasses and ginger, and makes them into smaller portions perfect for a church concession stand at the county fair.
Here is her recipe:
- Dice apples and place them in the bottom of a greased muffin pan. (You may prefer to slice the apples for a fancier look, but that will increase baking time.)
2. Heat ¼ cup of salted butter, ¾ cup of brown sugar, ½ tsp of ground cinnamon, and 1 tsp of vanilla extract. The more tacky you let it get, the more crispy the outside will be after it is baked. (Mrs. Whitmore just throws everything into a frying pan, quickly stirs once everything has melted, and then turns off the stove as soon as the mixture begins to bubble.)
Cover the apples with the hot mixture. (Mrs. Whitmore uses a gravy ladle to scoop the toffee sauce into the muffin pan.)
Melt 1 stick of salted butter in a mixing bowl.
Add 1 and ½ cup of flour, 1 tsp baking powder, ¼ tsp baking soda, ¾ cup of light brown sugar, 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract, 2 eggs, 3 tbsp of molasses, ¼ tsp ground cinnamon, ½ tsp ground ginger.
Mix the ingredients with a spoon like you would mix pancake batter — no need to beat. The consistency will be more like biscuit or cookie dough than cake batter. Put a scoop of the dough on top of apples and toffee in the muffin pans.
Bake at 350 degrees for 15 – 25 minutes. (The top of the cake should look dry.) If you are using regular cupcake pans, you can make 12 and they should be done in 15. If you are using larger muffin pans, you can make 8 and they need to bake for about 20 minutes. If you are baking multiple items in the oven, it will take closer to 25 minutes.
Sometimes the toffee comes up the sides of the cake, so it is best to put a larger tray on the rack underneath or line the bottom of the oven with foil. (Elsie forgot to do this the first time she followed her mother’s recipe. Graham, being a bit over-protective, made her evacuate due to the smoke coming from the oven.)
Immediately after taking out of the oven, turn the muffin pan upside down on a tray, waxed paper, or cookie sheet. Tap the top of the pan and then lift up. Mrs. Whitmore uses a small spatula to collect any apple and toffee still in the pan and puts it on the cakes.
Serve while still warm, with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. Enjoy!
(Somes Mrs. Whitmore makes a smaller batch and then puts the rest of the dough in a bread pan to bake. She warms this up the following night and serves with warm lemon pudding and whipped cream — which is similar to gingerbread cake, a northeastern Pennsylvania county fair treat.)
In my home, this recipe was a success. My daughter, Lizzy, who doesn’t typically like sweet things, asked if I could make it every day. I hope you and your family like it as well!