Saturday, April 25, 2009

Sticky Date and Coconut Cake...

The 35th annual 5 mile walk to support the Animal Humane Society that Jeff and I are participating and raising money for is just a week away! This organization takes care of almost 40,000 animals a year and very much needs any support it can get!

As Team Gus, we have almost reached our goal of $1000... we are currently only $40 away from meeting that! I seriously can't say thank you enough to everyone who has generously donated in support of this outstanding organization. We are hoping to reach and maybe even surpass our goal, so any further donations, small or large, would be greatly appreciated! If you would like to support us, please check out our donation site! The banner above goes to the team site if you would like to pledge a team gift, while the donation link goes to my personal page. Gus decided that some ball play would be training enough yesterday - here he sits in the shade waiting for his turn to run after it!

Last Saturday, I didn't get around to making us a sweet treat and I was itchin' to get one going this morning for us to snack on this weekend. I was originally thinking about a cookie, but when I was sifting through my sweet recipes-to-try pile, this Sticky Date and Coconut Cake caught my eye.

I did have to make a quick run to the market for the dates, but everything else was handy in our pantry! Sticky in the title comes from how extremely moist this cake is - this comes from the technique used to incorporate the dates into the cake. The chopped dates are mixed with water, baking soda, a few pats of butter and a pinch of salt to keep the sweetness in check. Brought just to a boil, the mixture was removed from the heat and left to stand until the dates have softened and become very tender.

We did sneak in a little more nutrition by adding soft whole-wheat pastry flour into the dry ingredients, but you could surely use all-purpose if you don't have that on hand. Once the batter was ready for the cake, we scooped the mixture into a springform pan to get ready to bake. Now, why not just use a regular cake pan you might ask? Since this cake is so moist and because of what happens next, using a springform pan makes a world of difference in trying to get the cake out in one piece once it is ready to serve.

Even though the cake is not completely done, just over halfway through the baking time, the cake is removed from the oven and is doused in a boiling mixture of brown sugar, coconut flakes, butter and milk. Slid back into the oven to finish baking, that mixture on top continues to bubble, creating a rich, crunchy and sweet contrasting topping to the softer cake underneath. Doneness is a little tough to tell with a toothpick since you have that mixture on top now, but you should be able to see if the batter is still raw or not - just make sure you don't confuse it with the sugary topping.

When you pull the cake out, give it a five minute rest, then slide a very thin knife around the outside edge of the cake to release it from the side of the pan to finish cooling. This will help ensure the topping stays in tact and doesn't break when the cake shrinks slightly as it rests. Once cooled, you'll be able to release the sides of the springform pan with ease, making for a clean shot at cutting the cake into wedges. I already knew I liked dates, but I didn't know they could taste so good! The toffee-like topping took this lighter cake over-the top and brought enough additional flavor that you don't even need to have any distracting spices in the cake. Even though the dates were fairly chunky to begin with, they integrated so well into the cake that they seemed to melt right in, leaving you with a uniquely sweet dessert that definitely quelled our snack attack!



  1. Yum--I *love* dates! I think I am going to try to "veganize" the recipe, even though I don't have a springform pan. Hopefully I will get it out of the pan without too much trouble?


  2. Wow, this cake looks incredible! I'm so impressed. Date and coconut sound like a match made in heaven. Delicious!

  3. The cake looks yummy, Joe! I have to say I thought the "Sticky Date" part of your blog title was a "save the date" reference to the walk you're doing next I was surprised to see there were dates in the cake. :-p Haha!!


  4. Courtney - You could always line the pan with foil for added insurance! Lift it right out that way.

    Elyse - Thanks.

    Kari - Hee hee! I completely missed that... good catch though, it works!

  5. I love Dates and Coconut. Must be an incredible combination.

  6. Yum - your cake looks very tasty and it's so pretty as well! I love dates.

  7. Mahesh - They went together smashingly well!

    Kerstin - I love 'em too!

  8. Thanks, Joe! I've made the cake several times, it tastes great!