Sticky Date Pecan Cake

Every holiday season, as I prepare the list of baked goods I want to make, I always go back to family recipes. Many of them hold so many cherished memories. And honestly, isn’t that the real reason why Christmas is so special? I usually find myself sticking to the tried-and-true staples, but also end up trying some new recipes. These cakes aren’t really new: I found the recipe while going through old family recipes. This is one my grandma made, but I can’t actually recall ever eating it!

While dates aren’t something we bake with very often, years ago dates were often used in desserts, prized for their sweetness and the fact that they were exotic. Nowadays, come the holiday season, large Medjool dates pop up in stores and I cannot stop myself from buying them. That’s the reason why this recipe is perfect this year! It’s a delicious and super moist cake, almost pudding-like, with a boozy sauce poured over the top and left to soaked in. Need I say more?

Top down view of brown cake made in Bundt pan sitting on white cake plate with cranberries sitting in bowl and piece of cake to side all on white surface
Hand pouring sauce onto piece of brown cake sitting on white plate with rest of cake in background all on white surface
Piece of date pecan cake sitting on white plate with fork holding piece all on white surface

Watch how to make this date pecan cake:

Tall brown cake sitting on white cake plate with cranberries sprinkled around all on white surface with oven and cabinetry in background
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4.5 from 4 votes

Sticky Date Pecan Cake

If you're looking for a decadent cake for a special occasion, this is the one! This sticky date pecan cake has echos of an old-style recipe with just the right amount of sweetness!
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time1 hour
Total Time1 hour 20 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: cake, Christmas
Difficulty: Intermediate
Method: Baking
Servings: 16 servings
Author: Kaleb

Ingredients

For the cakes

  • ½ cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups applesauce
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp allspice
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp cloves
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 cup chopped dates
  • ¾ cup toasted chopped pecans

For the sauce

  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp cognac
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp orange zest

Instructions

For the cakes

  • Preheat the oven for 350°F.
  • Spread pecans on a baking sheet in an even layer. Toast in oven until fragrant, 5-8 minutes. Remove from oven, cool, and chop coarsely. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugars, 3-5 minutes.
  • Mix in the eggs until well combined.
  • Add the applesauce and vanilla. Scrape the bowl and mix to make sure everything is incorporated.
  • Sift together the dry ingredients and mix them, adding all at once. Mix until no dry streaks remain, 1 minute.
  • Chop the dates. To decrease the stickiness of the dates, freeze them ahead of time. Additionally, greasing a knife blade can help assist the chopping of the date.
  • Add the dates and pecans, mixing to incorporate.
  • Grease 1 10-cup Bundt pan or 8 6-ounce ramekins. Scoop batter into the pan and bake in the preheated oven until set and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, 45-60 minutes (or 20-25 minutes if using individual ramekins).

For the sauce

  • In a small saucepan, combine the brown sugar, syrup, and orange juice. Bring to a low boil over medium heat and continue to boil for 5 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and add butter, cognac, vanilla, salt, and zest. Stir to melt butter.
  • Poke holes in the cake and slowly pour the sauce over the warm cake. Allow the liquid to soak in and continue to pour until all sauce has been used.
  • Serve immediately. Add a dollop of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream to each slice of cake.

Nutrition

Serving: 1 cakeCalories: 339 kcal (17%)Carbohydrates: 55 g (18%)Protein: 3.2 g (6%)Fat: 12.4 g (19%)Saturated Fat: 5.5 g (34%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 1.6 gMonounsaturated Fat: 4.6 gTrans Fat: 0 gCholesterol: 44.2 mg (15%)Sodium: 320.5 mg (14%)Potassium: 137.5 mg (4%)Fiber: 1.9 g (8%)Sugar: 41 g (46%)Vitamin A: 78.2 IU (2%)Vitamin C: 2.3 mg (3%)Calcium: 22.4 mg (2%)Iron: 1.1 mg (6%)

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  • OMG! These look amazing. You are going to have me baking and cooking all of December and I’m not even a good baker. Love your blog, videos and recipes!

  • 5 stars
    Looks amazing!! Time to do another instacart…… Cognac and Dates coming up!
    I made your Sponge Candy, Toffee, and Carmel recipes so far. They have all been amazing!! You are keeping me cheerful during this time of Covid!! Thank you so much! Shared your website at the zoom church coffee hour/fellowship today!

  • 5 stars
    This reminds me of a Sticky Toffee Pudding (really a cake!)
    The texture and sweetness reminds me of The Bushmill’s Inn in Northern Ireland,

  • Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful recipe with us Kaleb! I made this today, and the house smells so wonderful. I made this ahead of time for Christmas dinner, but it is going to take all of my will power not to cut into it before then. I plan to warm the cake and the sauce up before serving it so that everything is sexy and warm. Do you want us to share photos of the finished product?

    Also, I noticed that the recipe states two eggs. Yet your video shows eggs shells from three eggs in your egg bowl. Wondering if it is two eggs or three eggs.

    Thanks again and Happy Holidays!
    Vincent
    Toronto, Ontario, Canada