This Queen Elizabeth cake is a lightly sweet date cake, topped with a brown sugar, butter and coconut broiled topping. A Canadian classic cake.
About this classic Canadian cake and why you’ll love it!
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 and enjoyed here many years later. This delicious cake truly does stand the test of time.
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 butter, brown sugar and coconut and broiled until bubbly and golden. The caramel-coconut topping is the perfect sweet topping for the just barely sweet date cake.
Queen Elizabeth Cake (the cake part) is also lower in fat and sugar than many cakes, making it perfect for afternoon enjoyment, perhaps with a spot of tea :)
As a bonus, this cake stays fresh for days on the counter, so it is one that is especially suited to making ahead.
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.
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.
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 idea sounds good to you.
- 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!
- No 9-inch square pan? You can bake this one in a 10-inch round pan instead (most likely springform, at that size).
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.
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!
Get the Recipe: Queen Elizabeth Cake
- 1 cup (147 ml) chopped pitted dates, packed
- 1 tsp (4.93 g) baking soda
- 1 cup (250 ml) boiling water
- 1/2 cup (113.5 g) butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup (220 g) light brown sugar, packed
- 1 large (1 large) egg
- 1 tsp (4.93 ml) vanilla
- 1 1/2 cups (187.5 g) all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp (4.93 g) baking powder
- 1/2 tsp (2.46 g) nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp (2.46 g) salt
- 1/2 cup (110 g) light brown sugar, packed
- 1/4 cup (56.75 g) butter
- 3 Tbsp (44.36 ml) whipping cream
- 1/3 cup (26.67 ml) shredded coconut, sweetened or unsweetened
- Preheat to 350°F 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!
- Add chopped dates and baking soda to a medium bowl. Pour in the boiling water and stir. Let stand until completely cooled to room temperature.
- 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 (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 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.