Date cake with vanilla bean & Earl Grey
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
A hearty cake for winter tea times. Hack off a piece for tea or lunchbox fodder. Moist thanks to the Earl Grey tea in which the dates soak. Tuck in and enjoy! Adapted from 'Sale & Pepe', January issue 2013
Recipe type: cakes
Cuisine: British
Serves: 12
  • 300g dates, pitted and chopped (+ two for decoration)
  • 300ml water
  • 100g soft brown cane sugar
  • 350g plain flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 vanilla bean, slit open, seeds removed (retain pod)
  • 200g unsalted butter
  • 350 ml of Earl Grey tea
  • cinammon or nutmeg, 1-2 tsps ground.
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  1. Butter a 22cm cake tin (I used a ring). Preheat oven to 180°C.
  2. Make up a mug of Earl Grey tea and soak the pitted, chopped dates in it. Leave to stand for 5 minutes and then drain. Place half the sugar and the strained tea from the dates in a small saucepan, simmer til the sugar has dissolved, then boil until syrup-like and reduced by half. Add the dates and continue to simmer for around 5 mins. Set aside to cool a little.
  3. Meanwhile, beat the remaining sugar with the eggs and flour, adding one egg and a little flour at a time. If you find the mixture too stiff, add a little milk to loosen but don’t make the mix to runny as more liquid is coming. Beat in the ground spices if using, along with the vanilla bean seeds and 1 tbsp of maple syrup. Keep the vanilla pod to flavour sugar or simmer with fruit for crumbles etc. Then fold in the dates and syrup mix til combined well.
  4. Tip the cake mix into the tin and bake for around 40 minutes until golden on top. I covered with some foil for the last 15 mins to prevent it getting too brown. When cooked, remove and turn out on a cooling rack. Decorate with some sliced dates, and drizzle some more maple syrup over, along with a sprinkling of brown sugar.
  5. Moist enough to eat as it is, but delicious warm with butter. It’s a large cake so freeze half if you like.
Recipe by The Red Bistro at