Date Cake With Caramel Sauce

This delicious Date Cake with Caramel Sauce is the invention of cookbook author Anas Atassi’s mother, and is one of the recipes in his book, Sumac. Soft, sticky dried dates provide both body and sweetness in the cake and reduce the volume of refined sugar needed. The result is a cake that is light and airy in texture, subtly but perfectly spiced, and not overwhelmingly sweet. On its own it’s perfect for a light mid-morning snack, but of course, for those with a sweet tooth, a heavy drenching with the recipe’s sweet and indulgent caramel sauce is positively encouraged!

Forgotten Date Cake from Sumac cookbook

Find out more about Sumac: Recipes and stories from Syria in our full review.

Date Cake with Caramel Sauce

This recipe is my mother’s invention and is truly a fusion dish, thanks to the dates that are ubiquitous in Saudi cuisine. When I asked my mother for the recipe, she didn’t even remember having created this cake. She was convinced that it was one of her friends’ recipes! It was only after a friend found a recipe from decades ago, written in my mother’s penmanship, that she believed that this recipe was hers. Perfect for coffee or dessert.
Servings 8 servings
Author Anas Atassi


  • 225 ml (7½ fl oz) of boiling water
  • 200 g (1⅓ cups) of soft dried dates (pitted)
  • 2 eggs
  • 125 ml (½ cup) of vegetable oil
  • 50 ml (2 ½ tablespoons) of milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 50 g (¼ cup) of brown sugar
  • 250 g (1⅔ cups) plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)

For the Caramel Sauce

  • 200 g (1 scant cup) sugar
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 125 ml (½ cup) thick (double) cream
  • ½ teaspoon salt


Equipment: Food processor or blender
Equipment: Hand mixer
Equipment: 20 cm (8 inch) square or round cake pan


  • Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F).
  • In a heatproof bowl, pour the boiling water over the dates. The dates should be completely covered. Soak for 15 minutes.
  • In a food processor, blend the dates and the soaking water for 30 seconds, or until the dates are in tiny pieces. The texture should not be completely smooth.
  • With a hand mixer, beat together the eggs, oil, milk, vanilla extract and brown sugar for 2–3 minutes until well combined, light in colour and fluffy.
  • With a rubber spatula, carefully fold the date pieces into the egg mixture. Sift the flour, cinnamon, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda in a separate bowl and then fold into the egg mixture.
  • Line the bottom and sides of the cake pan with baking paper. Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 30 minutes in the middle of the oven.
  • While the cake is baking, make the caramel. In a large non-stick pan, heat the sugar on medium heat. The sugar will melt and start to caramelise. Do not touch or stir the sugar. It will begin to melt where it touches the sides of the pan. Now you can carefully let the sugar bead up and swirl around in the pan.
  • Add the butter when the sugar starts to become liquid and golden brown. The caramel will start to bubble and spatter. Do not stand too close!
  • Stir the caramel with a wooden spoon until the butter is completely melted and then pour the cream in, stirring constantly. Continue cooking the caramel for 2–3 minutes to thicken it. When the caramel starts to coat the back of the spoon, add the salt. Stir and take the pan off the heat so that the caramel can cool.
  • Take the cake out of the oven and cool for at least 30 minutes before taking it out of the cake pan.
  • Take the cake out of the oven and cool for at least 30 minutes before taking it out of the cake pan.

Home-cooked Forgotten Date Cake in cake tin Home-cooked Forgotten Date Cake on plate, next to cookbook

We made the cake on its own, planning to make the caramel sauce later on but once we tasted the cake without the sauce, we liked it so much as it was that we skipped the sauce!

Home-cooked Forgotten Date Cake, with slice cut out on small plate in front of rest of cake


If you decide to buy this book after reading our content, please consider clicking through our affiliate link, located within the post and in the footnote below.

This recipe is extracted from Sumac by Anas Atassi and republished with permission from Murdoch Books. Food photography: Jeroen van der Spek. Home cooked recipe photography, Kavita Favelle.

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2 Comments to "Date Cake With Caramel Sauce"

  1. TeamNotfeafy

    We’ve been looking forward to this one since we read your book review! Your cake looks so delicious and well-textured, it’s easy to see how this works well as a stand-alone – what a lovely backstory the recipe has too. It’s an added pleasure for us when a recipe book brings food, culture, people and place together.
    We have some forgotten dates somewhere, the only problem is finding them!


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