This is one of the rare cakes I love as much as a chocolate one. It’s not overly sweet like many caramel cakes I’ve had. It’s a super moist bundt cake that gets most of its flavor (and moisture) from chopped, pitted dates boiled in water. I know – that in itself does not sound appetizing. But it works. It’s not heavy on the butter (there’s only half a stick in the whole cake) so the whipped cream on top adds the right amount of richness. FInally, the nuttiness in the toffee sauce just takes it over the edge. Though I’m not sure why it’s called a pudding. It’s a cake, I swear. I was first asked to make this many Thanksgivings ago for dinner at a family friend’s. I’d never had it. Never known about it. I was handed a recipe, so I made it. And it. Was. Just. Divine. I remade it recently for a ladies’ luncheon (yeah, I live in the 1950’s). Needless to say, it was a hit. So you can imagine my surprise when I served my husband a piece of the leftovers…only to hear that he didn’t care for it! Just not a fan or caramel/toffee. Oh well. Tomato, tomahto. It’s perfect for post Ramadan if you have a ton of dates leftover and have run out of uses for them! I use Medjool dates. They’re nice and plump and sweet. I poke a few holes through the top with a toothpick to let the syrup soak through. And let me just say how much I love bundt cakes for entertaining. They always look so beautiful and with half the effort of a layer cake. No layer breaking or leveling or aligning. Just pop it out onto a nice serving plate and drizzle with icing. The cascade over the curves and in between the ridges always makes for a show stopper.
But let me interject here. The popping out part has not been so smooth for me (punnnnn!). I’ve had to stick back parts of the cake that stuck to the top of the bundt pan and try to cover it with icing. I don’t know if you’re in the same boat, but I’ve actually had better luck recently! I don’t know if it’s because of the generous buttering of the pan that I do by hand (and subsequent flouring) or if it’s the fact that I’ve been letting it completely cool (overnight) before turning out. But I’d suggest you try both!
Recipe from Bon Appetit
For the cake
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temp, plus more for greasing the pan
- 1 1/2cups (or 6 oz) chopped, pitted dates
- 1 1/4 cups water
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour, sifted, plus more for the pan
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp sea salt (I suppose the briny flavor complements the toffee better than table or kosher salt, but use whatever you have on hand)
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs
For the sauce
- 1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- In a medium saucepan, bring water and dates to a boil. Turn off heat and add baking soda. Take off the heat and let cool.
- Butter and grease your bundt pan.
- Whip butter in stand mixer or using an electric mixer. Add the sugar in slowly. Then vanilla. Then add 1 egg. Mix to combine. Add half of the flour mixture and half of the date mixture. Add the second egg. Finally, add the remaining flour mixture and date mixture.
- Bake in preheated oven for 40 to 45 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
- For the sauce: bring the sugar, cream, and butter to boil in a small saucepan. Continue to boil while stirring constantly with a wooden spoon for 3 minutes. Turn off heat, add vanilla, and voila.
To serve: top with a dollop of whipped cream and a drizzle of the toffee sauce. Alternately, break off chunks with your hand in your groggy, kids-woke-me-up-too-early daze and eat to comfort yourself, as a sign that the day WILL get better.