Sticky Date Cake with Butterscotch Sauce


sticky date cake 1

On a recent girls’ night out, perhaps my first in over 2 years, I had the misfortune of ordering fish and chips for dinner at a joint more well-known for its hamburgers. My fish looked unrecognisable in its thick and over-cooked batter; a pierce with a knife revealed mostly air pockets inside and an unappetising oil leak. The French fries were cooked well beyond golden and limping with oil, not to mention smelling of a fishmonger’s shop from having been cooked in the same oil as the fish. Both were delivered on a plate sans any green salad or sauce. I almost laughed at the presentation of deep-fried brownness before me, thinking it was a joke, but the owner came to wish me a good meal and I realised that he actually expected me to eat (and pay for) the woeful meal before me.

The only saving grace that night was dessert, my way of giving the restaurant a second chance because my dinner was returned largely uneaten. Thankfully, dessert was a lovely sticky date cake served with a warm butterscotch sauce and a scattering of tart raspberries. I was sharing the dessert with a friend (who shared the misfortune of ordering the same fish and chips), and much politeness was expressed over who should have the last bite, before I feigned reluctance and happily devoured what remained on the plate.

sticky date cake 2

Sticky date cake with butterscotch sauce is a popular café dessert in Australia, one which I dream of frequently but seldom make. But the recent snowy weather in Zurich has prompted much stoveside activity in our home, and a warming pudding of this sort felt necessary to chase the winter blues away.

This recipe comes from Everyday by Bill Granger, an old favourite which I frequently turn to for inspiration during the busy week. The only change I made to this recipe was to reduce the quantity of dates; I often find sticky date cakes and sticky date puddings to be on the sickly sweet side, plus my supermarket only sells dates in packets of 200 g, so I went with this quantity. The result was a lovely and moist cake which was modest in sweetness, thus lending itself well to be generously draped in warm butterscotch sauce.

butterscotch sauce

The cake should be served warm with the butterscotch sauce still bubbling from the stove, but as the cake keeps rather well over several days, it is also lovely served at room temperature with the warm sauce alongside. Some fresh raspberries provide welcome tartness against the sweetness of the butterscotch sauce, and a scoop of vanilla ice-cream would make this dessert sing.

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Recipe adapted from Everyday by Bill Granger
The cake keeps well for several days under a covered cake stand or covered in clingfilm.

I prefer to serve this dessert by cutting a piece of cake and drizzling it with the butterscotch sauce, rather than pouring all of the sauce over the entire cake before serving.

The butterscotch sauce will harden once cooled, so it is best to keep it in a small saucepan in the fridge. Simply reheat the fridge-cold sauce in the saucepan over medium heat until it is bubbling, and thin it with a bit of cream if needed.

You can substitute the light muscovado sugar for soft brown sugar.

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  1. Paula 5 February 2015

    I love sticky date cake!! First time I tried it thinking I wouldn’t like it, and then, I felt in love 😛

    But both times I’ve done (quite different from your recipe), was at Christmas (it reminds me the typical Britisch christmas cake, don’t know why!). Once I dared and I bought it canned (as awful as choosing fish and chips at that restaurant, I guess).

    Yours looks great, never think about put some raspberries, but I can imagine how delicious it is!!!

    What a shame what happened to you!!! It’s a pity when this happens, especially if there are other dishes that we know are going to work. This is why sometines I don’t dare choosing new things in old places 😛

    Have a nice end of week, Thanh!!!!!

    • Eat, Little Bird 7 February 2015

      I’m a bit like you – I often order the same thing at the same restaurant because I’m sometimes too scared to try something new, just in case it doesn’t taste good. But I never expected that a restaurant could stuff up something as simple as fish and chips! At least dessert was good 🙂

  2. Kate 5 February 2015

    Sticky toffee pudding is my absolute favourite so a whole cake-sized one? Yes please!

    • Eat, Little Bird 7 February 2015

      My husband and I often take our time getting through a whole cake on our own, but we had no trouble with this one! I used to make Nigella’s sticky toffee pudding all of the time but often found it too sweet. Plus, it never tasted that great the next day because the sauce would have thickened. So this cake with the separate butterscotch sauce is perfect for me 🙂

  3. I need to get on this date cake thing! It looks lovely and that sauce is calling my name!!

  4. This looks divine! I’ve always wanted to try making this!

    • Eat, Little Bird 7 February 2015

      Thanks, Jessie! Please let me know if you do try this recipe. Would love to know what you think of this recipe.

  5. mimi 7 February 2015

    Gorgeous! I love the addition of the fresh raspberries! This is so reminiscent of sticky toffee pudding, and I would imagine an Australian version would be similar…

    • Eat, Little Bird 7 February 2015

      Yes, it’s very much like a sticky toffee pudding, except the cake and sauce are made separately, which is great if you wish to serve it over a few days. And the raspberries are definitely a lovely addition to cut through the sweetness of the sauce.

  6. Lynn | The Road to Honey 10 February 2015

    I’ve actually never had sticky date cake and have come to the sudden realization that I have been missing out on something fantastic. This looks so homey and comforting. . .perfect for these wintery days we having in Boston.

    • Eat, Little Bird 14 February 2015

      I’ve heard it’s been pretty cold over in Boston! I’m sure this dessert would be perfect for one of your snow days 🙂

  7. Rushi 18 February 2015

    Thanh, I happen to love sticky date cake or pudding and made one not too long ago but I had trouble with the caramel sauce (I have an electric stove and I’ve noticed that making caramel sauce is much much easier on a gas stove) and this was a recipe that I had used many many many times… Oh well the end result was delish so I suppose that’s what counts.

    Next time I will try yours with the raspberries 😉

    • Eat, Little Bird 18 February 2015

      Yes, I think making caramel on a gas stove is much easier than an electric stove, especially if you are starting with just sugar in a dry saucepan. Thankfully, Bill Granger’s recipe is pretty easy in that you just mix all of the ingredients together and bring it to a bubble on the stove. Which recipe do you use for your sticky date cake? If it’s a recipe you love, I would love to try it too 🙂


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