Are you seeking an afternoon snack cake or a wintry coffee cake for a sweet treat? Try this dairy-free date cake for something a little different. Date cake isn’t a new concept, but this recipe has a few unique traits. First, the dates almost melt into the cake, becoming a part of the overall taste rather than just an add-in. Second, you don’t need butter or milk of any kind to make it. The recipe uses everyday ingredients. And finally, it contains just a little cocoa powder as a complementary ingredient that simply enhances the overall flavor without taking over.
Dairy-Free Date Cake is a Made for Tea Time
This dairy-free date cake recipe is adapted from Mrs. K’s Date Cake, a recipe by my friend Ricki Heller. Her version is vegan, whole grain, and refined sugar free. I’ve included her options in the recipe. But I’ve adapted the recipe in several ways that make it more of an ode to her original recipe than a duplicate.
Ricki tops her vegan date cake with sucanat, coconut, and chocolate chips. My husband also likes it fully loaded, but I prefer just the sucanat. If you only have plain old sugar, that works for topping instead. Sucanat, turbinado or coconut sugar just add a little more of a caramelized flavor. It’s delicious with coffee or tea on a cold fall or winter day.
Special Diet Notes: Dairy-Free Date Cake
By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, optionally egg-free, nut-free, peanut-free, soy-free, optionally vegan, and vegetarian.
- ½ cup diced dates (see Date Note below)
- 1 cup boiling water
- 1¼ cups all-purpose flour (can sub wheat flour or spelt flour)
- ½ cup sugar (can sub sucanat or coconut sugar)
- 1½ tablespoons cocoa powder
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs (see Vegan Option below for egg-free)
- ¼ cup oil
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 to 2 tablespoons coarse sugar, like Sucanat
- ¼ cup unsweetened shredded coconut (optional)
- ½ cup dairy-free chocolate chips (I used Enjoy Life; optional)
- Place the dates in a large bowl and cover with the boiling water. Let it sit for 15 minutes, or until the water has cooled to room temperature.
- Preheat your oven to 350°F and grease or line an 8x8-inch baking pan with parchment paper.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- Add the eggs, oil, and vanilla to the dates and water, and whisk until combined. Add the dry ingredients and stir to combine.
- Pour the batter into your prepared cake pan. Sprinkle the top of the batter evenly with the coarse sugar, followed by the coconut (if using), and then the chocolate chips (if using).
- Bake the cake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
- Let the cake cool completely before cutting it into squares. The flavor will develop more if you let it sit for several hours.
- You can store this cake covered at room temperature or a couple of days, or in the refrigerator for up to a week. You can also freeze the slices.
Vegan Option: Omit the eggs. Add 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed to the bowl with the dates, and increase the boiling water to 1¼ cups. The batter will be thicker.