This Salted Caramel Dried Fruit & Date Cake is a holiday crowd-pleaser! Made with simple ingredients, a luscious salted caramel buttercream, and dried fruit topping, this classic cake is a real delight.
⭐ Why You’ll Love This Recipe
Looking for a warm and festive cake for the holidays? Instead of the usual holiday fruitcake, take dessert to new heights with this naturally sweet and comforting Salted Caramel Dried Fruit & Date Cake!
This classic cake recipe comes together in a pinch and uses just 8 simple ingredients. Just like my Gingerbread Spice Cake and Mini Spiced Bundt Cake, it’s a perfect match for the holidays and is deliciously warm and sweet. Enjoy your date cake on its own or take it a step further with the homemade salted caramel buttercream on top.
One-layer snack cakes are some of my favorite desserts to enjoy, as they are the perfect size for a small family! My rose pistachio cake, honey almond plum cake, orange chocolate cake and semolina cake are some of my favorites!
❓ What are the best dates to bake with?
Deglet noor dates and Medjool dates are large, tender, and fantastic in caramelized banana bread, cakes, and oatmeal cranberry cookies. Feel free to snack on a few while you’re baking! Their naturally vanilla-caramel flavor and soft texture make them a pleasantly sweet treat and natural sweetener in baked goods.
- Dates - For the best flavor, make sure the dates are fresh. Soaking the dates in boiling water and baking soda softens the flesh and makes them easier to puree.
- Unsalted butter - The fat in butter adds moisture, flavor, and density. Make sure it’s at room temperature before you start baking.
- Light brown sugar - The added molasses in brown sugar deepens the flavor and color of this sweet date cake.
- Egg - To help strengthen the batter and add moisture.
- All-purpose flour - Or you can substitute bread flour, pastry flour, or a 1:1 mix. Just keep in mind that the texture won’t be quite the same.
- Baking powder - Acts as a leavening agent to make a moist, fluffy cake.
- Salted caramel - The only difference between caramel and salted caramel is the added sea salt, making caramel sauce divine. You’ll need granulated sugar, heavy cream, unsalted butter, and sea salt to make your salted caramel from scratch.
- Buttercream frosting - This basic buttercream is easy to make using unsalted butter (make sure it’s room temperature), powdered sugar, and vanilla.
- Dried fruit - You can gently fold finely chopped dried fruit into the frosting and layer pieces on top for garnish. I used dried plums, strawberries, satsuma mandarins, and organic flowers to garnish.
📖 Step by Step Instructions
Baking the cake
Step 1: Soak the dates. Place the dates and baking soda in a bowl and pour boiling water over the top. Push the dates down with a spoon so they’re submerged. Let them soak for 10 minutes.
Step 2: Combine wet ingredients. In the bowl of a standing mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Reduce the speed, add the egg, and continue to mix until combined.
Step 3: Mix in dry ingredients. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour and baking soda. Mix until just combined.
Step 4: Add dates. Puree the soaked dates in a blender or food processor. Add the mixture to the batter and mix on low until well combined.
Step 5: Bake the cake. Add the batter to a prepared cake pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean.
Step 6: Leave it to cool. Allow the cake to cool for a few minutes before turning it out onto a cooling rack. At this point, you can leave your date cake as is to slice and serve with butter or jam. Otherwise, take it a step further and add a layer of smooth and fluffy homemade salted caramel frosting on top.
Making the caramel and frosting
Step 7: Make the salted caramel. In a saucepan, melt the sugar over medium-high heat. Stir every minute to prevent it from burning. Add the cream and butter, then reduce the heat and continue to melt until smooth. Pour into a glass container and let it cool to room temperature before adding to your frosting.
Step 8: Make the buttercream frosting. Whip the butter until it’s light and fluffy. Reduce the speed and add the powdered sugar and vanilla extract. With the mixer still on low, pour in the cooled caramel and salt. Mix until combined.
Step 9: Assemble and garnish. Frost your date cake with as much salted caramel frosting as you like. Use a spoon or offset spatula to spread it evenly or create swirls and swoops! Decorate the top of your cake with layered dried fruit and flowers and enjoy!
⏲️ Substitutions & Variations
- Add nuts - For walnuts or pecans into the cake batter for a delightful crunch.
- Chocolate chips - Fold 1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips into the batter.
- Powdered sugar on top - Instead of the buttercream, sift powdered sugar over the top.
- Different frosting - Feel free to decorate your cake with any flavor of frosting you love. My brown butter buttercream, eggnog frosting, and almond buttercream would all be perfect matches.
💭 Recipe FAQs
Instead of a 6-inch cake pan, bake the batter in a greased loaf pan at 350ºF - you will likely need to bake the loaf for an additional 10+ minutes, so make sure to keep an eye on it!
The frosted cake will stay fresh at room temperature for up to 2 days or in the fridge for up to 5 days. Just keep the cake or individual slices stored in an airtight container.
Yes! To freeze, wrap the unfrosted cake in plastic wrap and a layer of aluminum foil and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature before frosting.
Date syrup is derived from the date palm tree and offers a caramelized sweetness, while maple syrup comes from the sap of maple trees and has a distinct woody sweetness. Both can be used as natural sweeteners, but the flavor profiles differ.
Absolutely! Coconut milk, almond milk, or oat milk can serve as alternatives to dairy, and coconut oil or olive oil can replace butter. For a vegan caramel twist, try vegan caramel made with coconut sugar.
Definitely! Orange zest or a dash of lemon juice can be added to bring a bright note, balancing the deep caramelized flavors of the dates and salted caramel sauce.
More Christmas dessert recipes
If you try the recipe for this Salted Caramel Date Cake, please leave a 🌟 review and share your creation with me on social media! You can find me on Instagram, Facebook, Youtube and Pinterest - for more delicious recipes sent straight to your inbox, sign up for my newsletter! 📧
Salted Caramel Dried Fruit & Date Cake
- Glass Container
- 1 ¼ cups (250 g) granulated sugar
- ¾ cup (200 g) heavy cream
- 3 Tablespoons (42 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting
- ½ Cup (115 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 Cups (240 g) powdered sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 Tablespoons (60 g) salted caramel, room temperature
- ¾ cup (110 g) dates, pitted
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ cup (60 g) boiling water
- 3 Tablespoons (42 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 6 Tablespoons (84 g) light brown sugar, packed
- 1 egg, large
- ½ cup + 2 Tablespoons (78 g) all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- dried plums, strawberries, satsumas, and fresh plums to garnish, or any dried fruit of your choice
- Pour the sugar into a saucepan, and over medium-high heat allow the sugar to slowly melt and eventually shift in color to a deep amber-brown color. Make sure you continue to stir the sugar every minute or so in order to prevent it from burning!1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
- Add the cream and butter to the sugar – expect the ingredients to bubble and foam for about 30 seconds or so. Then, over low heat, continue to melt down any large bits of caramel. Do this until the mixture is completely fluid and smooth before removing it from heat and adding sea salt.¾ cup heavy cream, 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, ½ teaspoon sea salt
- Pour caramel into a glass container and allow to cool before adding to buttercream.
Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting
- In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip the butter on high until light and fluffy, about 5-6 minutes, scraping down the bowl and paddle every couple minutes. Turn the mixer to low and add the powdered sugar, scraping down the bowl while adding the vanilla.½ Cup unsalted butter, 2 Cups powdered sugar, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- With the mixer still on low, add the salted caramel and salt, mixing until fully combined.2 Tablespoons salted caramel
- Place the dates and baking soda in a bowl and pour boiling water over both ingredients. Press down the dates with a spoon so they’re submerged and let them sit for 10 minutes.¾ cup dates, ½ teaspoon baking soda, ¼ cup boiling water
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter, and sugar on high until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Reduce speed to medium, add the egg. Continue to mix until combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, 6 Tablespoons light brown sugar, 1 egg
- Then with the mixer on low, add flour and baking powder mixing until just combined.½ cup + 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour, ½ teaspoon baking powder
- Preheat the oven to 350˚F and puree the dates using a blender or food processor, and add the pureed date mixture into the batter, mixing on low until well combined.
- Grease and line a 6-inch cake pan with parchment paper. Add batter into your cake pan and bake for 26-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean. Allow the cakes to cool for about 5 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack.
- Add as much of your caramel buttercream frosting on top of the cake and spread evenly. Utilizing a spoon or an offset spatula, create swirls and swoops to your liking into the buttercream!
- Add the decoration of your liking on top! I added a couple of different layers of toppings, starting with dried layered fruits and adding organic flowers!dried plums, strawberries, satsumas, and fresh plums to garnish
- How do I make a date loaf? Instead of a 6-inch cake pan, bake the batter in a greased loaf pan at 350ºF - you will likely need to bake the loaf for an additional 10+ minutes, so make sure to keep an eye on it!
- How long does date cake stay fresh? The frosted cake will stay fresh at room temperature for up to 2 days or in the fridge for up to 5 days. Just keep the cake or individual slices stored in an airtight container.
- Does date cake freeze well? Yes! To freeze, wrap the unfrosted cake in plastic wrap and a layer of aluminum foil and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature before frosting.