This cake, inspired by a traditional English sticky toffee pudding, is one that I make every year around the holidays. Warm, gooey date cake saturated with bourbon caramel sauce and topped with creamy vanilla ice cream and of course more caramel sauce, for good measure. Somehow, even with all of that this spectacular dessert manages to be not too sweet, but instead perfectly balanced, warm, creamy, and absolutely delicious!
Oh boy, this cake is life-changing! If you think I’m being dramatic, just wait until you try it. There are a few extra steps involved in this recipe but even so, it is very easy to make.
The base of this cake is a mixture of mashed dates. This is made by steeping dried dates in boiling water and then mashing, them until they are pulpy and caramel-like. Dates add not only sweetness but a real depth of flavor, and a ton of moisture.
After baking, the date cake is slathered in bourbon caramel sauce that seeps into it infusing it with moisture and bourbon caramel flavor. As if that wasn’t enough this sweet and sticky date cake is served warm with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream (seriously, don’t skip the ice cream!) and an extra drizzle of caramel sauce. What could be better than that?!
Ingredients You’ll Need
Here’s everything you’ll need to make Date Cake with Bourbon Caramel Sauce: soft, dried dates, eggs, butter, sugar, vanilla, flour, baking soda, baking powder, bourbon, cream, and brown sugar.
Recipe Step by Step
Step 1. Hydrate and Mash the Dates
The base of this cake is essentially a date puree or paste. To make this the dates are steeped in boiling water then mashed with a fork, potato masher, or your hands. I typically use my clean hands for this step, it’s messy but quick and effective.
Step 2. Make the Cake Batter
Next up, make the batter, whisk together the eggs and sugar until pale and smooth then fold in the mashed dates then the dry ingredients.
Step 3. Bake
Pour the cake batter into a greased cake pan and bake.
Step 4. Make the Bourbon Caramel Sauce
While the cake is in the oven make the bourbon butterscotch caramel sauce. Melt the butter and sugar together then whisk in the cream and bourbon. Let cool slightly before serving.
Step 5. Serve
Use a skewer or the tip of a knife to poke holes in the cake. Pour half of the bourbon caramel sauce over the surface of the cake, cut into squares, top with vanilla ice cream and an extra drizzle of caramel sauce.
FAQs & Expert Tips
Yes, you can freeze date cake for up to three months. To do so bake the cake but do not pour the caramel sauce overtop. Instead let the cake cool completely, remove it from the pan, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and store in the freezer. Make the caramel sauce the day you plan to serve your cake. After defrosting the cake reheat in in the oven (instructions below) then pour the sauce over top and serve with vanilla ice cream.
Yes, date cake can be stored, covered, at room temperature for up to 2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
To reheat, preheat the oven to 325 F. Cover the cake loosely with foil and bake for 10 minutes. Warm the caramel sauce separately in a small saucepot or in the microwave.
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Warm Date Cake with Bourbon Caramel Sauce
- 1 lb dried Medjool dates pitted
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 2 c boiling water
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 ½ c sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 2 ¼ c all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
Bourbon Caramel Sauce
- ½ c unsalted butter
- 2 c brown sugar
- 1 c heavy cream
- ¼ c bourbon
- 2 pints vanilla ice cream
- Preheat the oven to 350 and butter a 9×13 inch cake pan.
- Place the dates and baking soda in a heatproof bowl then cover with the boiling water. Allow to stand, uncovered, for 30 minutes or until dates are tender. Mash the dates with a fork, potato masher, or your hands, until they are mostly dissolved and pulpy. I usually use my (clean) hands, it's messy but effective.
- In a small bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
- In a large mixing bowl whisk together the sugar eggs and vanilla until pale and creamy. Then fold in the date mixture followed by the dry ingredients. Mix until well combined.
- Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the cake stand for 10 minutes before serving.
Bourbon Caramel Sauce
- In a small saucepan melt the butter and brown sugar. As soon as the sugar dissolves pour in the cream and bourbon, whisk to combine. Bring the sauce to a simmer, then turn off the heat.
- Poke the cake with a skewer, or butter knife 20-30 times all over. Pour half the bourbon caramel sauce over the surface of the cake. Use a spatula or the back of a spoon to spread the sauce evenly across the cake and guide it into the holes. Cut the cake into squares, top with vanilla ice cream and extra bourbon caramel sauce.
- Dates: Look for soft, squishy dates, some dried dates are very dry and hard, which is fine but you will have to work harder to get them to the right pulpy consistency.
- Flour: I have not personally tested this cake with gluten-free flour but I assume a brand like Cup for Cup gluten-free flour would substitute just fine.
- Bourbon: You can easily omit the bourbon if you prefer alcohol-free.
FAQs, Tips and Tricks
- Can I make date cake in advance? Yes, date cake can be made in advance and stored, covered, at room temperature for up to 2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- Reheating Instructions: To reheat, preheat the oven to 325 F. Cover the cake loosely with foil and bake for 10 minutes. Warm the caramel sauce separately in a small saucepot or in the microwave.
Equipment Cake Pan | Cake Tester | Glass Bowls