I love dates in any way shape or form.  I like to eat them out of hand, epecially those beautiful Medjool ones you get at Christmas time in the shops.  They are so rich and sweet and lovely.

I also adore cakes or biscuits/cookies made with dates and my Aunt Orabel’s Date Squares/Matrimonial bars were unsurpassed!
We are especially fond of this old, old recipe for Queen Elizabeth Cake.  I don’t expect there is a Canadian community cookbook without a version of this in it.  It goes way back.  The rumour has it that this is the only cake that Queen Elizabeth likes to bake.  Well, I am not sure she has been in the kitchen baking in recent years . . .  but perhaps when she was a girl, she did like to bake.  Nobody knows for sure.
But what I do know for sure is that it is a simple and delicious cake!  The dates make it incredibly moist . . . 
And it is studded throughout with lots of lovely walnuts.  I like to toast my walnuts first . . .  for some reason it enhances their taste, but you don’t have to if you don’t want to.  You can toast them in a moderate (180*C/350*F) oven for about 8 minutes and let them cool before chopping. 
Its quick and easy to throw together and bakes in about half an hour.  After it has baked and cooled a bit, you slather a caramel icing on top, which soaks in and drips down the sides.  A scattering of coconut is its final crowning glory. 
Whether the Queen bakes this or you do, I think you will find this is one very delicious cake!  I think sometimes that some of these old recipes are the best recipes of all.
*Queen Elizabeth Cake*

Makes one 9 X 12 Cake 

Incredibly moist and delicious.  Said to be the only cake that the Queen bakes by herself.  Not sure if that is true or not, but hey ho, it’s a great cake nonetheless! 

150g of chopped dates (1 cup)

1 tsp baking soda

225ml boiling water (1 cup)

199g granulated sugar (1 cup)

125g butter, softened (1/2 cup)

1 large free range egg, beate

1 tsp vanilla

210g plain flour (1 1/2 cups)

1 tsp baking powder

1/3 tsp salt

60g chopped walnuts (1/2 cup) 

For the topping:

5 TBS soft light brown sugar, packed

5 TBS heavy cream

2 TBS butter

75g of shredded, unsweetened coconut (1 cup) 

 Preheat the oven to 180*C350*F/ gas mark 4.  Butter and flour a 9 by 12 inch baking pan.  Alternately you can line it with baking paper.  Set aside.

Place the dates in a bowl and our the boiling water over top. Stir in the soda.  Leave to stand until lukewarm.  Cream the sugar and butter together until light and fluffy.  Beat in the egg and vanilla.  Sift together the baking powder, flour and salt.  Stir this into the creamed mixture.  Finally stir in the date mixture.  Stir in the walnuts and mix all together well.  Spread in the prepared pan. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes until golden brown and the top springs back when lightly touched. Leave to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a large plate or board.

Combine the sugar, cream and butter in a saucepan for the topping.  Bring to the boil, and cook for exactly three minutes at a rolling boil.  Pour over the cake and spread it out with the back of a spoon. Sprinkle with the coconut and leave to cool completely before serving.  Cut into squares to serve.

If you only bake one thing this weekend let it be this.  I will tell you that it is very remiscent of Sticky Toffee Pudding, so if you like that, you will LOVE this!  Bon Appetit!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *