Moist, tender, and bursting with sweet but subtle caramel flavors, this date cake is the ultimate coffee pairing!
It’s chewy, nutty, and to die for.
Date cake tastes like sticky toffee pudding. But thanks to the raisins and walnuts, it has a much better texture.
It’s perfect if you’re in the mood for something rich, indulgent, and full of natural caramel flavor.
Sticky Date Cake Recipe
Dates are well-known as nature’s sweeteners and are often used to make vegan caramel.
When boiled and pureed, they bring so much deliciousness (and moisture!) to cakes and other desserts. This date cake is no exception!
It’s a breeze to make and has precisely the right amount of sweetness. The dates’ natural caramel flavor is perfect without being overwhelming.
Plus, you won’t believe how moist it is! And while the stickiness might be messy, you won’t care. It just tastes too darn good!
There are two parts to this yummy dessert: the cake and the topping. Let’s check out the ingredients for each.
For the Cake:
- Dates and raisins. You’ll soak them in boiling water and baking soda to bring out their sweet, caramelized flavor. This also softens them, which is why the cake is so moist.
- Baking soda. A bit of baking soda in the dates and raisins will quickly neutralize their acidity.
- Granulated sugar. For sweetness.
- Butter. To enrich the cake. Feel free to use salted butter and cut out the extra salt listed below.
- Eggs. To bind the cake ingredients and help it rise.
- Vanilla extract. To enhance the cake’s flavor.
- All-purpose flour. The base of the cake that provides its structure.
- Salt. To balance out the sweetness. (Exclude if you use salted butter.)
For the Topping:
- Butter. For a richer flavor.
- Brown sugar. To enhance the caramelized goodness.
- Heavy cream. To make it nice and sticky but thin enough to soak into the cake for maximum flavor.
- Walnuts. For a lovely, crunchy finish
How to Make Date Cake
This recipe is super simple to make. And while I use a 9-inch baking pan, you can try it in muffin cups, as a loaf, or a bundt if you like!
1. Get ready. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and grease a baking pan with butter, oil, or cooking spray.
Additionally, line the pan with parchment paper, or dust it with flour. These steps make it easier to remove the cooked cake.
2. Soften the dates and raisins. See the recipe card for complete instructions on how to do this properly.
3. Prepare the cake batter. Beat together the sugar and butter until they’re light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Mix in the vanilla with the final egg.
4. Add the dry ingredients and date mixture. Add the flour and salt to the creamed sugar and butter. Stir this until it’s about halfway combined.
Then, add the raisin-date mixture. Mix well, but don’t overmix.
5. Bake the cake. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes. Check for doneness using the toothpick test.
Take the cake out of the oven and change the setting to broil.
6. Make the topping. While the cake bakes, melt the butter in a small saucepan. Once it melts, remove the pan from the heat.
Stir in the brown sugar, chopped walnuts, and cream. Mix until the sugar is dissolved.
7. Broil the cake. Spread the mixture on top of the cake. Place the pan back in the oven and broil for 1-3 minutes or until the topping is lightly browned.
You may need to rotate the cake halfway through to ensure the topping browns evenly.
8. Slice, serve, and enjoy! I like this warm, right out of the oven. But it’s just as good at room temperature.
Tips and Tricks
Here are a few final things to keep in mind:
- Chop the dates yourself. Store-bought chopped dates tend to be hard and dry. It’s better to chop them yourself. If all you can find are pre-chopped dates, cook them with the raisins to soften them.
- Coat your knife with olive oil. Doing so helps prevent the dates from sticking when you chop them.
- Use room-temperature ingredients. This especially applies to the cream. You’ll add it to hot butter. If it’s cold, it’ll start to solidify the butter before the sugar can dissolve.
- Don’t alter the sugar and date ratios. Some people use less sugar and more dates thinking it’ll balance out the sweetness. It won’t! Altering these ingredients will result in a dry, dense cake.
- Carefully monitor the broiling stage. Depending on your broiler’s power, the topping may start to burn in as little as 1 minute.
- Turn it into muffins or a loaf. Use the same recipe for the batter and topping. Just bake it differently. Muffins need 15 to 20 minutes in the oven. A loaf cake will require 45 to 60 minutes.
Want to mix things up a bit? Try some of these variations:
- Make it nuttier. Flavor the cake with almond extract instead of vanilla. You can also mix chopped nuts into the batter instead of just the topping.
- Give it some spice. Cinnamon pairs beautifully with dates and raisins and will work in the batter and the topping.
- Add some bourbon. Just a splash in the topping will further enhance the rich caramel flavor.
- Adjust the topping. Try a classic coffee cake crumb instead of the caramel glaze.
- Cook the fruit in orange juice. Instead of water, use orange juice to cook the raisins and dates. Doing so will greatly enrich their flavors. Be sure to use a tall pot, as the mixture will froth after adding the baking soda.
- No dates? No problem! Dried plums and prunes are adequate substitutes. However, your cake won’t have that deep caramel flavor that only dates can provide.
- Experiment with add-ins. Chocolate chips give the cake a delightful caramel chocolatey flavor. You can also add extra nuts or other dried fruits.
How to Store Date Cake
I highly doubt there’ll be any leftovers, but here’s how to store them, just in case.
- To store. Tightly wrap the remaining cake with plastic wrap and place it in an airtight container. Store at room temperature for 3 days or in the fridge for 5 days.
Unfortunately, this cake doesn’t freeze well. So use that as an excuse to indulge and avoid leftovers. 😉
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