Recipes | Queen Elizabeth Cake


Queen Elizabeth Cake

I remember making a cake like this way back when I started baking when it was known as Queen Mother's Cake which would obviously be consistent with it being called Queen Elizabeth cake. Anyway this version, which contains coconut comes from Rosie Sykes excellent new book Every Last Bite and sounds equally irresisitible.

Rosie writes: "This recipe comes from my great friend Lucy Goode, who is not only an excellent human being but also a tremendous baker. We became firm friends during lockdown and haven’t looked back since. We spend much time discussing food and giving each other little tubs of things to try. This cake is a great favourite of JM (Lucy’s excellent Canadian husband).

Lucy says of the cake: the most common theory is that it was created to celebrate the late Queen’s Coronation, and it is so delicious that even anti-monarchist French Canadians eat it. There’s also some disagreement over nuts: walnuts or pecans or none at all? Only on the top, or baked into the cake? Either way what all versions have in common is dates, and a coconutty caramelly top that you toast briefly under a hot grill (broiler) at the end.

It’s very versatile.


For at least 8

For the cake

60g (1/4 cup) butter, softened, plus extra for greasing

250ml (1 cup) water

200g (1 1/2 cups) chopped dates

180g (1 1/2 cups) plain (all-purpose) flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)

pinch of salt

180g (1 cup minus 1 1/2 tbsp) soft brown sugar (you can use any, but this gives it a lovely toffee-ish flavour)

1 tsp vanilla extract or essence

1 egg

75g (3/4 cup) chopped walnuts (optional)

For the top

90g (1/2 cup) soft brown sugar

75ml (5 tbsp) double (heavy) cream

80g (generous 5 tbsp) unsalted butter

100g (1 1/3 cups) desiccated (dried shredded) coconut or 75g (1 cup) desiccated coconut and 75g (3/4 cup) chopped walnuts or pecans

To serve

cream or ice cream

You can cut the square into 8 very large slices for pudding, served warm with vanilla ice cream, cream or crème fraîche, or cut into 16 smaller squares to have with a cup of tea or coffee. It freezes very well. I made this in a 20cm (8in) square tin but you can also make it in a 20cm (8in) round springform cake tin.

Preheat the oven to 180°C fan/200°C/400°F/Gas mark 6 with a shelf in the middle. Butter and line the bottom and sides of a 20cm (8in) round or square tin.

Bring the water and dates to the boil in a saucepan, then simmer, stirring frequently, for 3 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly.

In a bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt together.

In another bowl or using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugar and vanilla together until light and fluffy. Slowly add the egg and beat until smooth.

Bake for 35–40 minutes until a cocktail stick (toothpick) inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.

While the cake is baking, combine all the ingredients for the top in a saucepan and bring slowly to the boil, then simmer for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Bear in mind it is going to be easier to work with when warm, so start this towards the end of the cake cooking time. Once the cake comes out of the oven, leave it to stand for 5 minutes, then gently prick the top with a fork and pour over the warm nutty caramel, spreading it as evenly as you can.

Preheat the grill (broiler), then grill the cake for 3–4 minutes, depending on your grill, but watch it carefully; you want the top to be uniformly brown and bubbling, not burnt. Leave the cake until it’s cool enough to handle, then lift it carefully out of the tin and slide it onto a wire rack to cool. Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Every Last Bite by Rosie SykesPS Dates are really good for baking. Softer, semi-dried dates are more readily available now and can be good value. They keep very well and are a delicious treat – some of the medjool dates are like eating a soft toffee! If you are trying to use less refined sugar in your baking, dates are an excellent stand in. A good rule of thumb is to use about half the amount of dates you would sugar. I make the dates into a purée using a scant amount of water and use this as my substitute.

What to drink: Honestly I don't think you can beat a cup of tea or mug of coffee with this but if you are having it as a pudding you could serve an Australian liqueur muscat. 

Extracted from Every Last Bite by Rosie Sykes (Quadrille, £18.99), Photography © Patricia Niven

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