This date cake recipe is moist, simple to make, and delicious. Topped with a date glaze, it’s spiced with cardamom, cinnamon, ginger and clove, and packed
full of dates. Date cakes are popular in Iraq (where I’m from), so I’ve had my fair share!
This cake uses mashed Medjool dates and chopped walnuts. Let’s make it!
Why I love this Date Walnut cake!
In Iraq, we have a lot of dates, since the country produces them. Therefore, we make a lot of date cakes!
This date cake is a tea time type of cake. By that I mean, it's not overly sweet and its definitely not a "sticky toffee pudding". It is moist and studded with chunks of dates and crunchy walnuts.
The best part is the spices. It's infused with flavours of ginger, clove, cinnamon and cardamom. You can serve it plain, or make a very easy date molasses glaze which really takes it to another level.
This is an easy recipe, because it comes together in 15 minutes and only needs about 40 minutes to bake in the oven.
Ingredients you'll need for this date & walnut cake:
Simple ingredients come together to make this date cake:
All-purpose flour. I use all-purpose because I don't typically have cake flour on hand so this recipe has been tested using only all-purpose flour!
Sugar, butter and eggs. Make sure the butter and eggs are at room temperature for better creaming.
Baking Powder and Baking Soda. The baking soda will be used for soaking the dates, and it helps soften them.
Spices including cardamom, cinnamon, clove, and ginger. I love every note that each of these spices add so I would encourage you to add all of them. However, if you don't have clove or ginger it would be fine to skip them. The cinnamon and cardamom are necessary though!
Dates and Walnuts. The main stars of this cake. I discuss types of dates to use below. For the walnuts, make sure they are chopped into small pieces.
Let's make this cake, step by step
This cake is so simple, and here's how it goes:
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Start by removing the pit from the dates, and chopping them into halves or quarters. Quarters is best but if you're lazy, its okay. Then, heat up the milk just until it starts to boil and pour it on top. Add the baking soda.
Leave the dates to soak while you prepare the rest of the cake, for approximately 10-15 minutes. Mash the dates using a fork or potato masher to form a paste.
TIP: Ensure the butter and the eggs are at room temperature by taking them out of the fridge 1-2 hours before baking. This is important to ensure the cake is fluffy!
When the sugar, butter and eggs are creamed together well, start by slowly adding in the dry ingredients. Then, add the mashed dates and milk mixture. Mix for a few seconds to combine.
Finally, add the walnuts and mix for a few seconds to incorporate them into the batter.
Using a standard 10-inch Bundt cake pan (I am using this one and love it!), ensure you thoroughly butter and flour the inside. To do this, use a knob of butter and run it all along the edges and grooves. Then, dust a bit of flour all over the inside.
Pour the cake batter into the Bundt pan evenly, then bake for 35-45 minutes. Check the cake at the 35 minute mark using a toothpick. Remove when the toothpick comes out clean.
Remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool on the countertop for 10-15 minutes. Then, flip it onto a cake stand and it should release beautifully!
Next, prepare the glaze before serving. I love to decorate the cake with extra chopped walnuts as well as dry rose petals.
How to make the Date Molasses glaze!
There are a few options for different types of glaze you can serve this cake with. You can even serve it plain with some tea, it's delicious that way too!
I have tested this cake with a butter glaze, which is how I served it for a while, as well as with a date molasses glaze, which is my new favourite way of serving it!
I love both of them, so I'm going to show you how to make both. If you have access to date molasses, I recommend you try it.
For the Date Molasses glaze:
The best part about this glaze is that it is so easy and does not require cooking anything. Simply mix together 2 parts sweetened condensed milk, and 1 part date molasses. I do ½ cup of condensed milk and ¼ cup of molasses.
What is date molasses you ask? Date molasses, or "Debes" in Arabic, is a thick dark brown syrup made from dates. It's sweet and fruity and tastes like dates. It's commonly used across the middle east, especially in Iraq since the country produces lots of dates!
In Iraq, we typically eat date molasses with tahini! We mix the two and make a delicious dip.
Use the glaze to drizzle on top of the cake, and serve the rest on the side for anyone who wants more.
For the easy butter glaze:
This quick glaze is made with melted butter, sugar, and thick cream. It's so good, that I sometimes lick it off the plate.
The cream I use for the glaze is the thick cream typically sold in cans and I've found it by Carnation or Puck at most grocery stores. I have not tried it with liquid cream! Make sure you make the glaze just before serving so it doesn't get too thick. When it cools down it gets thicker and will be hard to drizzle all over the cake.
Prepare the glaze just before serving by melting the butter in a saucepan, then whisking it with the sugar and cream until combined.
Bring it to a boil on medium heat, then lower it to low and allow it to simmer for 2-3 minutes. It will thicken as it cools down. Drizzle all over the cake, then decorate with walnuts or dried flower petals.
What kind of dates are best for baking?
Dates are a staple in Middle Eastern desserts. They are naturally sweet and add a deep flavour to any baked good. There are many varieties of dates, but here are the three I recommend:
Medjool dates. They're great for baking because they're really sweet, soft and are easy to mash into sweets and desserts. They are also larger than other types of dates. They taste very much like caramel and are delicious on their own too. Medjool dates are often the most expensive type of dates.
Khudri Dates. These dates are commonly imported from Saudi Arabia, and they're my second favourite to bake with. They are chewy and moderately sweet, and they're really easy to work with and chop up into desserts. They are also less expensive than medjool dates.
Deglet Noor. If you can't find medjool dates or Khudri dates (my top two recommendations) in your local grocery store, another common type is Deglet Noor. They are more nutty but less sweet then medjool. They are also more firm and dryer than Medjool dates. Deglet Noor dates are more commonly found in supermarkets.
Leftover cake, with or without glaze on it, can be stored in an airtight container on your countertop. It should last for about a week or so.
You can also cut the cake into smaller pieces, wrap them in plastic wrap, and freeze them. When you're ready to enjoy a slice, either thaw it at room temperature, or simply place it in the microwave for a few minutes until warmed through.
FAQs and Substitutions
Is date cake sticky? There is a version of date cake called "sticky toffee pudding". But this date cake is a spiced tea cake, so it is not sticky.
What does date cake taste like? This date and walnut cake is spiced with ginger, clove, cardamom and cinnamon, so you will taste the warm spices along with the sweetness of the dates.
Is the date and walnut cake still good without any glaze? Yes! I love eating it plain with a cup of coffee or tea.
Can I leave out the walnuts? Absolutely! Feel free to substitute any other type of nut or skip the nuts all together.
Can I make this cake dairy free? Yes you can! Simply replace the milk with a plant based milk, and use vegan butter.
Middle Eastern dessert recipes you will love!
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Spiced Date & Walnut Cake Recipe
- 3 eggs room temperature
- ½ cup softened butter unsalted
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 2 cups flour all-purpose
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 tablespoon ground cardamom green
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground clove
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 Pinch of salt
- 2 cups chopped walnuts
For the Dates:
- 350 grams pitted and chopped dates (25-50 dates depending on size)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1.5 cups hot milk
For the Date Molasses glaze (option 1):
- ½ cup sweetened condensed milk
- ¼ cup date molasses
For the butter glaze (option 2):
- ¼ cup butter unsalted
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons thick cream solid form, typically from Carnation or Puck in a small can
- Pre-heat your oven to 350F
- Start by pitting the dates and roughly chopping them. You should use approximately 350g of dates in order to ensure a good ratio in the cake.
- Meanwhile, place the milk in a small saucepan and heat it until just before boiling.
- Add the dates to a bowl along with the baking soda, and cover them with the hot milk. Leave to soak for 10-15 minutes while you prepare the batter
- In a bowl, beat the butter and sugar using a stand mixer or hand mixer, until well combined, about 1 minute. Add the eggs one at a time, and continue to beat until incorporated
- Mix your dry ingredients, except for the walnuts, together in a bowl using a whisk
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in 2 portions, and continue to mix well until well combined. The batter will look quite thick at this point
- Mash the dates with a potato masher or using a fork until the dates start to soften and form a paste. Its okay if some date chunks remain
- Add the dates and milk mixture into the batter and mix until just combined. Add the walnuts and incorporate into the batter
- Grease a standard 10" round Bundt pan with butter, then dust it with flour all around, ensuring you get the edges. It helps to tap it against the counter
- Add the batter to the pan and smooth it out evenly
- Bake the cake for approximately 35-45 minutes, depending on your oven. You should start checking your cake at the 35 minute mark. Check the cake by inserting a knife or toothpick in the middle of the cake. If it comes out clean, you can remove the cake from the oven. Otherwise, continue to bake
- Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes, then flip it onto a cake stand
- If using the date molasses glaze, mix together the condensed milk with the molasses until well combined. Drizzle it over the cake before serving
- If using the butter glaze, prepare the glaze just before serving by melting the butter in a saucepan, then whisking it with the sugar and cream until combined. Bring to a boil then simmer on low heat for 2-3 minutes (it will thicken as it cools)
- Add the glaze to the cake and sprinkle it with chopped walnuts. Enjoy!
- Medjool dates will work best for this cake because they are really sweet and soft. However, other date varieties will also work (especially Khudri dates)
- Make sure you use room temperature butter and eggs, to help make the cake extra moist and fluffy
- I have tested this recipe using a standard 10" Bundt pan as well as a 9" springform cake pan and both work well