Dates + Caramel Cake

Dates + Caramel Cake

Today the mood at Kitchen Therapy is slightly reflective. We’ve been celebrating happiness and success, but it’s important to search for the essence of life.

The past couple of months I’ve seen too many untimely and unfair deaths of people I personally knew, leaving me in shock and yet so grateful I had the chance to know them: from college, during my book tour 5 years ago to whom I spoke to a few weeks before her tragedy, and an acquaintance. As I write this, I find it even harder to write about them in past tense. In such moments, we tend to mourn the regrets more than the loss itself.

This is nothing if not eye opening and placing life back into perspective; smile and laugh more, lose the hate. Our problems are only as big as we want them to be. Say thank you, say hello, say sorry. Forgive, forget, love more. Loose the grudges, and next time you bump into someone who hasn’t been awfully nice to you, give them an even bigger smile and hello. Trust me, it’s easier to spread the love than hate. Also… eat that piece of cake!

Speaking of which, this recipe began as an afterthought from an afternoon of excessive caramel-making. I thought about it, pondered, and did a bunch of reading, and decided to settle on something that used up some of my dates in the freezer and this caramel. I omitted the usual suspects like walnuts, almond, apples and cranberries, and decided on something simple with minimal efforts.

This cake is a moist, rich, tasty, almost Christmas-y and drizzled with thick caramel sauce that perfectly complements the cake. It is a rich cake. A very, very rich cake.

For the trial I used an 11 inch round cake tin, but the cake turned out a bit flatter than I would like. Next time I think I would opt for a 9 inch cake tin for a thicker slice. But the taste – my, my! I am in love with this, and even with all those healthy dates inside it. It is a cross between a cake and sticky toffee date pudding, which is best served with vanilla bean ice cream, thick cream or crème anglaise.

Psst… This cake is delightful when warmed just ever so slightly, but by no means necessary.

The Recipe
Serves 8


  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, soft
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tsp milk
  • 3/4 cup dates, pitted and finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3-4 tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup cream
  • 1/2 cup icing sugar
  • pinch of salt


  • Place the chopped dates in hot water and let them soften for at least 20 minutes.
  • Grease and line a round 9” cake tin. Heat the oven to 200C.
  • After 20 mins, smash down by a fork and into a thick mixture.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk the butter and sugar together.
  • Then add the vanilla, eggs and milk.
  • Add the baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, salt and flour and whisk gently just to combine.
  • Fold in the dates mixture with the liquid into the batter.
  • Bake in the oven for 30 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven when the skewer comes out clean. Let the cake cool for 10-15 minutes with the pan before turning over onto a cooling rack.
  • Place the sugar in a small pot on medium heat.
  • Let the sugar melt on it’s own in the pot, swirling it around, without poking it.
  • Remove from heat once the sugars have melted and start to bubble.
  • Whisk in the butter, followed by the cream.
  • Place back on the heat from 30 seconds, stirring continuously.
  • Leave the caramel aside to cool.
  • Whisk in the icing sugar and pinch of salt after to make a thick drizzle.

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The recipes are tried and tested, some are adapted from various places, and a few are passed down; but every one of them comes straight from the heart.