Date cake with caramel sauce - Döðluterta með karamellusósu

My friends call this cake "that heavenly date cake with the caramel sauce". It is apparently an old recipe, but someone must have rediscovered it recently, because it has been served a lot at birthday parties and ladies' handicrafts clubs lately.

I haven't got a clue where the recipe originally came from, but in Iceland it's known either as döðluterta með karamellusósu, which simply describes what it is, or as Dillonskaka or Dillon's Cake, which could suggests Irish or British origins. However, it might, and this is supported by information from some older ladies I know, be named after Lord Dillon, a British aristocrat who came to Iceland in 1834, fell in love with a local woman and built a house that he gave her before he left the country. It was a famous scandal at the time, as they had a child out of wedlock and were prevented from marrying by his family. She ran a guest house in the house he gave her and sold meals there for many years. Today the house stands in the Árbær museum and is a café.

235 g (8.3 oz.) stoneless dates and a little bit of water
1 tsp baking soda
120 g (4.2 oz.) butter, soft
5 tbs sugar
2 eggs
300 ml (approx. 1 1/4 cup) flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/3 tsp baking powder

Put the dates in a saucepan and pour in enough water to barely cover the dates. Bring to the boil, turn off the heat and let stand for a few minutes.
Add the baking soda to the saucepan and stir well. Dates should come apart into a thick paste.
Whip together the sugar and butter until light and fluffy, then add the eggs, one by one. Add the dry ingredients and vanilla and mix well. Finally add the stewed dates.

Bake in a well-greased springform pan, for 30-40 minutes at 180°C (356°F).
Remove from oven when done, let cool slightly, then remove from pan and serve warm with the sauce on the side.

Caramel sauce:
200 g (7 oz.) butter
200 g (7 oz.) brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
200 ml (1/2 cup + 1/3 cup) cream

Put all ingredients together in a saucepan and cook together over slow heat, stirring continuously for 5 minutes or until slightly browned. Pour into a jug or sauce boat and serve warm on the side with the cake or pour directly over the cake and serve. This sauce is also excellent on ice cream.


Three-Cookies said…
Its origin is probably British. In Britain and colonies its called stick date/toffee pudding with butterscotch sauce
Joe said…
The last time I baked with dates I got to such a point of frustration handling and chopping them that I resorted to putting them in a pressure cooker.

The result was quite surprising. I used less water than I should have to prevent them from resembling canned fruit, and found their flesh to be "spreadable", and receptive to absorbing some spice.
At full pressure, it shouldn't be left to go more than 3 minutes to prevent them from just falling apart after absorbing all the steam it can.
Joe said…
I also get to use my favorite baking bon mot: "Hey baby, looking for a date?"
Anonymous said…
hi and it tastes great!!! lovely xx
Anonymous said…
I just made this for Christmas. It was wonderful! Very moist and lots of flavour. I was a little freaked out when the dates turned green while stewing in the pot but then they turned black as I continued making them into a paste. The batter itself is kind of gray looking but once out of the oven it is nice and brown - looks great and tastes even better. Thank you!

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