Arabian Date Cake

My boys’ grade school in London celebrated the diversity of the student body with an annual International Day. The children wore their country’s traditional dress, performed dances, and taught their friends about their customs. One Saudi Arabian girl, Rania Al Husseini, always brought this snack cake, which is delicious warm from the oven and moist enough to be enjoyed at room temperature with a cold glass of milk.

Note: When you are chopping the dates, dust them with a bit of flour to prevent them from sticking to the knife.–May Bsisu

Arabian Date Cake Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 30 M
  • 1 H, 10 M
  • Serves 8


  • 1/2 pound Medjool dates, pitted and coarsely chopped (Buy it)
  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for the baking dish
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • For the topping
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 5 tablespoons heavy cream


  • Make the cake
  • 1. Place the dates in a heatproof bowl. Bring 1 cup water to a boil in a small saucepan, pour it over the dates, and let them soak until plumped, 10 minutes. Do not drain.
  • 2. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Coat a 7-by-11-inch baking dish with butter.
  • 3. Cream the butter and sugar together in a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or with a handheld electric mixer). Sift the flour and baking powder together in a bowl and set aside. Combine the dates and their soaking liquid, the baking soda, and the vanilla in a small bowl.
  • 4. With the mixer on medium speed, add the egg and one third of the flour mixture to the creamed butter and beat until incorporated, about 2 minutes. Gradually add the remaining flour and beat until it is mixed into the batter. Add the date mixture and beat until well blended.
  • 5. Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish and bake until the cake springs back when tapped with a finger, or when a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Using a fork, poke holes all over the surface of the cake.
  • 6. Preheat the broiler.
  • Make the topping
  • 7. Combine the butter, brown sugar, and cream in a saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring, until it bubbles slightly, about 3 minutes.
  • 8. Pour this caramel syrup over the baked cake and then slide it under the broiler until the surface begins to bubble, about 30 seconds. Immediately remove the dish from the oven. Let the cake cool a bit; then cut it into squares. Serve warm or at room temperature.
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Recipe Testers Reviews

Recipe Testers Reviews
Testers Choice
Kim Walker

Feb 21, 2005

The cake almost feels virtuous, moist but not very sweet, and then you add the caramel topping! This makes it into an indulgent snack. My family compulsively nibbled at it until it was gone. Good with a cup of coffee for breakfast.

Testers Choice
Linda Johnson

Feb 21, 2005

Oooh…this was a delicious cake. It baked up gorgeous and moist, just as the author said it would. And for those family members who say they don’t like dates? Everyone wanted second (and sometimes third) helpings. I will use this recipe again.

Testers Choice
Isabel Fonte

Feb 21, 2005

Despite having to bake this much longer than called for because my pan was smaller, this cake was really moist. I love dates and thought this cake had great flavour. Next time I might not use the topping, as the cake was sweet enough on its own.

Testers Choice
Lida Magloff

Feb 21, 2005

This was a very easy, very nice cake. Because the topping is so liquid, consider poking a lot of holes in the cake before pouring it on, because it soaks in, making the cake exceedingly moist. It has the consistency and taste of a traditional English sticky toffee or date pudding, both of which are usually more difficult to make than this. I made this for the crowd at the office, and they descended on it like a swarm of locusts. It’s more of a casual dessert or treat than an ending for a formal dinner, although if served warm with some homemade vanilla ice cream, it would make a very nice dessert for a special meal.

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