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Mary Berry vs Nigella Sticky Toffee Pudding Recipes

Celebrity Recipes
Mary Berry and Nigella Lawson sticky toffee pudding recipe with vanilla ice cream in white bowl

First thoughts on the bakes:

Overall, these were very different bakes in terms of their look and taste - I was expecting them to be similar as they both follow a familiar-looking sticky toffee pudding recipe. Nigella’s sticky toffee pudding was a lot darker, and before it baked it looked fairly runny. Mary Berry’s sticky toffee pudding batter looked a lot more like cake batter before baking. 

Nigella’s pudding also came out a little denser - maybe even smaller than what I was expecting - whereas Mary Berry’s recipe had more rising agents, so it was bigger. And because of the different sugars we used, Mary Berry’s bake was a lighter colour - Nigella’s was that darker, more traditional deep brown colour which I associate with sticky toffee pudding. 

I got mine and my partner’s family involved - it was lovely to see them guessing which recipe they thought was Nigella’s or Mary’s. They’re really fun bakes to make with the family. 

If you’re baking these recipes with kids, be careful with toffee sauces simmering on the stove - they can get really hot, so watch small hands in the kitchen when you’re cooking. 

Making the sticky toffee pudding mixture for Nigella and Mary Berry sticky toffee pudding, with Billington's dark muscovado sugar

Mary Berry’s sticky toffee pudding recipe - a top-level look:

Ease of baking: 7/10 

Enjoyment to bake: 9/10 - We did this as a family bake, so everyone got involved and they got very excited.

Time to bake: 1 hr 30

Appearance of bake: 6/10 - However, this is just my personal preference as it was a lighter colour than a ‘traditional’ pudding, which I expect to be darker.

Taste test: 7/10 - It’s less sweet than Nigella’s pudding, so not as overwhelmingly rich.

End result: 7/10

Want to bake for yourself? Here’s Mary Berry’s Sticky Toffee Pudding recipe.

Nigella’s sticky toffee recipe - a top-level look:

Ease of baking: 8/10 -  The only thing which seems quite labour-intensive is chopping the dates.

Enjoyment to bake: 9/10 - We had a great time baking with the family.

Time to bake: Approx. 1 hr 45

Appearance of bake: 8/10

Taste test: 8/10 - It’s richer - the Billington’s Dark Muscovado Sugar really works.

End result: 8/10 

Want to give this deliciously-intense recipe a go? Here’s the recipe for Nigella’s Sticky Toffee Pudding

Mary Berry vs Nigella toffee sticky pudding:

These bakes inspired a discussion - does a sticky toffee pudding need to have dates to be authentic? My partner’s 85-year-old grandma is a huge Mary Berry fan but preferred Nigella’s recipe (which contained dates) in a blind taste test, so the dates really seem to make the bake.

The addition of the soaked dates is the biggest difference between the bakes, followed by the different types of sugars. Billington’s Dark Muscovado really made Nigella’s bake darker, richer and more intense. 

Mary Berry uses vanilla extract in her sauce (we used Neilsen-Massey Vanilla Extract for her recipe), but the overall vanilla flavour was overtaken by the sweetness of the sauce, so we couldn’t really taste the vanilla. I would say that Nigella’s toffee sauce was better - it was thicker, more decadent and soaked into the pudding more easily, and gave us that much-needed sticky, rich hit. Mary’s sauce was sweet but didn’t have that luscious stickiness. 

Smoothing out the cake mixture for Mary Berry and Nigella's sticky toffee pudding with Billington's Muscovado Sugar

Mary Berry sticky toffee pudding verdict: 

How did it taste?

This bake wasn’t as sweet or rich as Nigella’s, but that’s not a bad thing - it didn’t become overwhelmingly rich, so it’s quite moreish. Mary Berry’s sticky toffee pudding isn’t as intense as Nigella’s, so it’s a great crowd-pleaser. 

Mouthfeel and texture:

Mary’s recipe felt ‘firmer’ in my mouth, and it didn’t just fall apart - the mouthfeel felt similar to a very moist cake. 

What would Mary Berry’s sticky toffee pudding pair well with?

We had a roast lamb dinner before trying this - and it paired so well with Mary Berry’s sticky toffee pudding to finish our meal. We had Mary’s bake with vanilla ice cream - the hot and the cold creates a nice texture, and cuts through the sweetness. 

Nigella sticky toffee pudding verdict

How did it taste?

It tasted intense, rich and had that ‘stickiness’ we were craving - it’s a bake that’s packed with flavour, and if you’re a diehard sticky toffee pudding fan, this is the bake for you. You can taste the dates slightly, but as they have been soaked, it’s not a problem if you’re not keen on them usually.

Making the sauce is a step on its own, so there’s a lot more careful timing involved - but it’s worth it. This recipe can take longer to bake as it needs more time and planning.

Mouthfeel and texture:

Nigella’s bake feels ‘gooey’ in your mouth, and falls apart a bit more as the batter is a lot more moist - it doesn’t stick together as much, but it’s got a wonderfully-rich mouthfeel. With the sticky sauce soaked into the pudding, you get that delicious chewy, gummy texture. 

What would Nigella’s sticky toffee pudding pair well with?

You need to have an ice cream or plain cream with this bake - you couldn’t eat it on its own, as it might be too rich, and needs something to help balance it out

Custard might be too thick, even if served cold - I’d recommend vanilla ice cream, as that’s a personal favourite of mine! 

Freshly baked cake mixture for Nigella and Mary Berry's sticky toffee pudding recipes

Overall verdict:

Overall winner: Nigella

Nigella absolutely nailed the ‘traditional’ sticky toffee pudding appearance - it’s what you think of when you’re asked to imagine a sticky toffee pudding. Her pudding’s got a darker colour, as the dark muscovado sugar gave it that familiar deep-brown toffee shade.

Nigella’s recipe felt less ‘rushed’ - there were one or two more steps, but it’s worth it. Mary Berry’s bake felt very easy, but not very considered - everything goes into one bowl and is all mixed together.

I feel like taking the time and care for Nigella’s pudding really showed in the outcome of the bake. Nigella’s recipe is for bakers who have the time and headspace to bake in a leisurely way - Mary Berry’s is definitely the faster, easier option. 

Letting the sauce melt into the Nigella recipe gave it an extra nice final step - it’s good to wait for the finished result!

What went well?

Both bakes turned out brilliantly - there wasn’t one that I’d pick out as a clear loser, and both have their merits. There isn’t always a clear winner when trialling bakes, and that’s a good thing!

Both of the recipes turned out exactly as we hoped they would - there were no surprises in terms of measurements, and both are very doable if you have a small kitchen or if you’re a novice baker.

You can prep both in advance, so they’re great for family baking or on days when you’ll have lots of people in the kitchen! 

What was a challenge:

Getting the sauce right for Nigella’s bake, as you have to make the sauce a certain temperature, then know when to add cream, then be careful not to burn the sauce. You have to watch the sauce closely to get it right - and it also gets very hot, so be careful with that. 

I learned a top tip for getting treacle off a spoon - run it under hot water, dry it thoroughly, and then use that to add the treacle. It’ll come off the spoon far more easily. 

How would you improve these recipes?

I would like to try Mary Berry’s sticky toffee pudding with dates and see how that changes the texture. In the future, I might try that. It’d be an interesting test, and I wonder if the sweetness and moisture of the dates would add some richness.

This isn’t something I’d change, but something to be aware of - Nigella’s recipe was supposed to make ‘9 generous slabs’, but these portions would have been enormous! We cut Nigella’s bake into 12 and that was more than enough per person, so it goes further than the recipe suggests.