Sticky Spiced Chocolate Cake (dairy-free)

As I leave my student days behind me, I’m becoming increasingly busier. As a result, I’m lacking the time to write recipes, bake and shoot, all with enough daylight to get some decent images! But as I get into my first ever career job (and my dream one at that), I’ve been baking more at the weekends knowing that I will be able to give the cake away rather than have it languish in my kitchen growing stale. It’s also a great way to make some friends, make myself known and start some conversations in the work kitchen. DSC_1593Last week I tried to make sticky toffee pudding cupcakes and they didn’t exactly go to plan because I, in my usual baking fashion, didn’t pay attention to the recipe properly and I didn’t blitz up my date mixture to get a paste, so it went all bitty in the cupcakes. This week, determined to use up my dates and do it right, I decided to make a chocolate cake but with a sticky toffee element! The recipe I found used hot water, so I soaked my dates in that, and then this time blitzed them to make a paste, which I added to the rest of my wet ingredients. I also didn’t have buttermilk, so I just used almond milk with the juice of a blood orange (as I had no lemons either) in place of that. It makes this cake dairy-free, which helps my tummy and makes it more accessible to sharing too.DSC_1530Ingredients:
For the cake:
80g dates
160 ml boiling water
2 eggs
180 ml buttermilk/almond milk with half a lemon/orange’s juice
180ml sunflower oil
2 tsp vanilla
80g unsweetened cocoa powder
200g caster sugar
100g brown sugar
190g plain flour
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp mixed spice
1/2 tsp salt
3-4 cracks black pepper

For the glaze:
200g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3-4 tbsp milk/almond milk (add gradually)
sprinkles/seeds to top

Preheat your oven to 180˚C/160˚C Fan/Gas Mark 4.

Soak your dates in the hot water and leave for 5 minutes. Blend in a food processor and add to your oil and buttermilk/milk mixture. Making sure that the mixture isn’t warm, add the eggs and beat in.

Sift in the dry ingredients and gently fold in. Transfer to a greased and cocoa dusted pan (I used a bundt pan here, otherwise use two sandwich cake tins) and bake for 40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.

Let cool for 15 minutes before turning out and letting it cool completely.

To make the glaze, add the milk to the icing sugar bit by bit, until the glaze is a thick but pourable consistency. You want to make sure it isn’t too thin as it needs to coat the cake rather than be translucent against the chocolate.

Sprinkle with pumpkin seeds or your topping of choice and serve up!


This cake is wonderfully moist but also incredibly light, and not too sickly because the brown sugar isn’t as sweet, but if you want a sweeter cake, swap out 50g of the brown sugar for caster sugar. This cake would also work really well with some chilli flakes or cayenne but I didn’t want to surprise my colleagues too much tomorrow so I gave it a miss! Adding some instant espresso to the hot water that you soak your dates in will also enhance the chocolate flavour without making the cake taste like coffee.

I hope you give this recipe a try and let me know how it turns out for you!

Until next time, keep baking.

Love Sian xxx


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