This Queen Elizabeth cake is a lightly sweet date cake, topped with a brown sugar, butter and coconut broiled topping.
Despite the name of this cake, this Queen Elizabeth Cake is more associated with Canada, than Britain, as it is here that it found a lot of fans. This 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 many years later. This delicious date cake truly does stand the test of time.
The lovely date cake for the Queen Elizabeth Cake is somewhat reminiscent of sticky toffee pudding cake, but on top, is a broiled butter, brown sugar and coconut topping. The caramel-coconut topping is the perfect sweet topping for the just barely sweet date cake.
As a bonus, this cake stays fresh for days on the counter, so it is one that is especially suited to making ahead.
Cook’s Notes for Queen Elizabeth Cake
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.
This cake stays fresh for days covered on the counter. It would also freeze well, if you want to save some for later.
When it comes time to broil your topping, don’t wander off. It can go from golden to burnt in an instant. Watch it like a hawk!
Some variations of Queen Elizabeth Cake include walnuts, either chopped and added to the cake batter with the dates or stirred in to the coconut topping. It’s a nice option if either sounds good to you.
You can use sweetened or unsweetened coconut here, but I do suggest you stick with shredded coconut, as it makes for nice texture and a prettier cake, I think.
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
- 1 cup chopped pitted dates packed
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 cup boiling water
- 1/2 cup butter at room temperature
- 1 cup light brown sugar packed
- 1 large egg
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar packed
- 1/4 cup butter
- 3 Tbsp whipping cream
- 1/3 cup shredded coconut sweetened or unsweetened
- reheat to 350°F with rack in centre of oven.
- Grease a 9-inch square (or 10-inch round) metal cake pan. Set aside.
- Add chopped dates and baking soda to a medium bowl. Pour in the boiling water and stir. Let stand until completely cooled.
- 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. Beat in the egg, then 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, 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 30-35 minutes. Remove from oven and switch oven broiler on.
- Start the topping when the cake is almost done. Combine 1/2 cup brown sugar, butter, cream and coconut in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then reduce heat and boil gently for 1 minute. Spread topping mixture evenly over hot cake.
- Broil cake about 6 inches from the heat source until bubbling and golden brown, about 1 to 2 minutes. **Don't wander off! Watch closely as topping can burn quickly.
- Remove from oven and let cake cool on rack until cooled completely.