This Queen Elizabeth cake is a lightly sweet date cake, topped with a brown sugar, butter and coconut broiled topping. A Canadian classic cake!

Queen Elizabeth Cake sliced in baking pan

Despite the name of this cake, this Queen Elizabeth Cake is classically Canadian! This delicious date cake really took hold here in the early 1950’s, around the time of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II and is still being made and enjoyed here many years later.

Why you’ll love this Queen Elizabeth Cake!

The lovely Queen Elizabeth Cake is somewhat reminiscent of the cake part of sticky toffee pudding cake, but on top, rather than a toffee sauce, this one is topped with a butter, brown sugar and coconut mixture, that is broiled until bubbly and golden. The caramel-coconut topping is the perfect sweet topping for the date cake.

Queen Elizabeth Cake stays fresh for days on the counter, so it is one that is especially suited to making ahead or enjoying over several days. Especially lovely with a cup of tea.

Ingredients and Substitutions

ingredients needed to make Queen Elizabeth Cake

Dates – no need to use expensive dates here, unless you want to. The standard block of cooking dates in the baking aisle is just fine here. I am also a fan of Medjool dates for this cake. If using Medjool dates, be sure to pit them!

Coconut – You can use sweetened or unsweetened coconut here. I usually use sweetened. I do suggest you stick with shredded coconut, as it makes for nice texture and a prettier cake, I think.

Step-by-Step Photos

  1. Combine the dates, baking soda and boiling water. Allow to stand until completely cooled to room temperature before starting the cake.
  2. Mix up the dry ingredients in a bowl and whisk together.
  3. Cream together the room temperature butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  4. Beat in the egg.
  5. Take a moment to scrape down the bowl.
  6. Beat in the vanilla.
  7. Add the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternately with the date mixture.
  8. Adding the date mixture, with the liquid.
  9. The finished batter.
  10. The batter added to a greased baking pan and bake about 30 minutes.
  11. When cake is almost done, combine the topping ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.
  12. Pour topping over the warm, baked cake and broil until golden.

Recipe Video

Recipe Tips

  • Chopping sticky dates is no fun, but it is necessary to ensure that the dates will soften in the boiling water. Chop them as finely as you prefer, depending on how much of the dates you want to see in your cake. Some people find it easier to cut up the dates with kitchen scissors, rather than a knife.
  • If you’d like to lift your cake out in one piece (onto a serving plate, for example, line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper. You don’t want to have any parchment extending beyond the sides of the cake, as you will be broiling the top and it could, of course, start on fire!
  • When it comes time to broil your topping, don’t wander off. It only takes a couple of minutes and can go from golden to burnt in an instant. Watch it like a hawk! If your broiler has both a Hi and Lo setting, I like to use the Lo setting for better control of the heat.
  • No 9-inch square pan? You can bake this one in a 10-inch round pan instead (most likely springform, at that size).
Queen Elizabeth Cake sliced in baking pan

Making ahead, Storing and Freezing

You can easily make this cake ahead, as it keeps really well on the counter for several days.

This cake will also freeze well up to 2 months.

Top Tip

The date and boiling water mixture that starts this cake needs to cool to room temperature before adding to the cake, so account for that extra time (it usually cools in about 30 minutes). I don’t even start preparing the cake until the dates are cooled.

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Queen Elizabeth Cake sliced in baking pan

Get the Recipe: Queen Elizabeth Cake

Delicious and moist date cake, topped with a brown sugar, butter and coconut broiled topping. Cake stays moist for days!
5 stars from 13 ratings
Prep Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Yield: 12 servings


For Cake:

  • 1 cup pitted dates, chopped and packed *see Note 1 below
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 cup salted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and levelled
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, *see Note 2 below
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 3 Tablespoons heavy whipping cream, 35% b.f.
  • 1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut, packed


  • At least 1 hour ahead: Add the boiling water and baking soda to a small bowl . Add the chopped dates and stir to combine. Let stand 1 hour before starting the cake.
  • Preheat to 350°F (not fan assisted) with rack in centre of oven.
  • Grease a 9-inch square (or 10-inch round) metal cake pan. Set aside. *If you want, you can line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper, for easy removal, but don't allow any parchment paper to extend beyond the top of the cake, as you will be broiling the top later and it could catch on fire!
  • In a large bowl with an electric beater or in the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and 1 cup brown sugar until light and smooth, about 2 minutes. Beat in the egg. Take a moment to scrape down the bowl, then beat in the vanilla.
  • In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, nutmeg and salt. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, alternating with date mixture (with any liquid with the dates), making 3 additions of flour mixture and 2 of date mixture.
  • Spoon batter into prepared pan and smooth top. Bake in preheated oven until firm to a light touch and a tester inserted into centre comes out clean, about 25-35 minutes. Remove from oven and switch oven broiler on. (If your broiler has both a Hi and Lo setting, go with the Lo setting to better control the heat.)
  • Start the topping when the cake is almost done. Combine the 1/2 cup brown sugar, butter, cream and coconut in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then reduce heat slightly and boil gently for 1 minute. Spread topping mixture evenly over hot cake.
  • Broil cake from the centre rack in the oven until bubbling and golden brown, about 1 to 2 minutes. **Don't wander off! Watch closely as topping can burn quickly. As it is quite bubbly under the broiler, it can be hard to see how browned the topping is getting. It is certainly fine to take it out, let it settle a bit to gauge the colour, then pop it back in for a bit longer, if needed.
  • Remove from oven and let cake cool in the pan on a wire rack until cooled completely.


Note 1: I like to use Medjool dates, but remember to pit them! They are a little pricey though, so you can certainly opt for honey dates or you can also use the block of pitted cooking dates from the baking aisle, if you like. For Medjool dates, you will only need about 10 dates and you can buy the small amount at somewhere like Bulk Barn.
Note 2: If your nutmeg is super fresh or you are grinding it yourself, you may want to reduce the nutmeg amount slightly, unless you are a nutmeg flavour lover. I discovered this recently when I got a new jar of nutmeg, after using the old jar for quite some time. The flavour was definitely more full with the fresh nutmeg.
This cake keeps well at room temperature for several days or you can freeze to enjoy later.
Be sure to read the notes above this Recipe Card, where I share some valuable tips, options, substitutions and variations for this recipe! You’ll also find step-by-step photos and a video, that you might find helpful.
Cuisine: Canadian
Course: Dessert
Serving: 1serving, Calories: 336kcal, Carbohydrates: 50g, Protein: 3g, Fat: 15g, Saturated Fat: 10g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 4g, Trans Fat: 0.5g, Cholesterol: 50mg, Sodium: 305mg, Potassium: 198mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 37g, Vitamin A: 451IU, Vitamin C: 0.1mg, Calcium: 56mg, Iron: 1mg
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