Project Description

Photo by Jaclyn Coleman.

Photo by Jaclyn Coleman.

The warm spices and rich toffee make this cake a holiday showstopper, but I would also consider adapting it for any time of year (hold the spices, add chocolate chips & cacao? Why not?). We used coconut sugar for it’s caramel-tinged aroma and flavor, and then added apple sauce for the additional moisture that whole grains flours love. Honey added a familiar and comforting note to the toffee that our tastes (adults and kiddos, alike) fell hard for. Recipe by Jaclyn Coleman.

Whole Wheat Sticky Toffee Date Cake

Lightly adapted from the SQIRL Cookbook @sqirlla.
Makes one cake.


For the cake:

  • 12 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature, more for the pan
  • 8 ounces pitted dates, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups Community Grains whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground cardamom
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger
  • ¾ tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/2 cup coconut palm sugar or light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • Optional: toasted walnuts, chopped

For the sticky toffee:

  • 1/4 cup brown rice syrup or agave nectar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • ½ cup coconut sugar or light brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Fleur de sel

Baking Instructions

  1. Make the cake: Heat oven to 325ºF and butter an 8-inch square, 9-inch round cake pan, or bundt pan.
  2. In a small pot, combine dates, lemon juice, and 3/4 cup water. Bring mixture to a boil, then simmer gently until dates soften and start to fall apart, about 6 minutes. Stir in the vanilla extract and apple sauce. Set aside to cool.
  3. While date mixture cools, stir together whole wheat flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger and salt.
  4. Using an electric mixer, beat butter and coconut sugar together on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Mix in cooled date mixture, followed by flour mixture.
  5. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, spreading evenly and smoothing the surface. Bake for 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean with just a few crumbs clinging to it.
  6. Meanwhile, make the sticky toffee: In a small pot, combine brown rice syrup and honey, coconut sugar and salt. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, whisking to dissolve sugar. Once sugar dissolves and bubbles, remove from heat and swirl in butter.
  7. When the cake comes out of the oven, spoon half the sticky toffee over it and let cool in the pan on a wire rack. (It will soak into the cake.)
  8. When the cake has cooled enough to handle, flip it out of the pan onto a serving dish or parchment paper. (Remember it’s got sticky toffee on the bottom, so there’s no moving it off that dish once you flip it.)
  9. Do this step shortly before serving: Pour the remaining sticky toffee over the cake and spread across the top (you may need to re-warm the toffee to loosen it up). Sprinkle with fleur de sel and serve. Store, loosely wrapped, at room temperature for up to 2 days.