Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Queen Elizabeth Cake

This might be the best vegan dessert I've ever made.

A few weeks ago, a friend mentioned a craving for something called Queen Elizabeth Cake. Her grandmother would make it at Christmas-time. I was intrigued, especially when I heard it was a date cake topped with a broiled coconut icing!

I did some research because of the name of the cake. There are many stories about the cake online. Some say it was a recipe made by Queen Elizabeth (there's debate about whether the younger or the elder), and the only cake she made herself!  Some stories say the recipe came together during the war. The cake contains a very little amount of butter or eggs, which would make sense if ingredients were rationed. Another part of the story is that the recipe was sold as a fundraiser.

I'm not sure what to make of all of these stories. It seems to be a very Canadian cake though as I can't find the recipe in British cook books. It's kind of like sticky toffee pudding in cake form.

When my friend made it, it was so good!  Really moist cake, dotted with dates, not too rich!  And the frosting was so good!  Creamy with lightly toasted coconut!  When I saw the recipe, I knew this cake would be perfect for vegan experimentation. It's a simple recipe, and the flavor comes from the ingredients, dates and coconut, not so much butter and eggs.

The vegan version is dense and moist, I upped the amount of dates from the original recipe, and substituted coconut oil for butter.


Queen Elizabeth Cake
Adapted from Amy Murphy's recipe (Thanks, Nanny Murphy!)
Makes 1 cake
Takes 1.5 hours

For  Cake:
1 1/2 cups baking dates, coarsely chopped
1 cup boiling water
1 tablespoon ground flax seed
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup chopped, lightly toasted walnuts (or pecans or hazelnuts or almonds)
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon white vinegar

For Icing:
5 tbsp brown sugar
3 tbsp Coconut oil
1/2 cup dried coconut (I used unsweetened)
3 tbsp coconut milk (perfect to make alongside a thai curry or kuku paka)

In a heatproof bowl, pour 1 cup boiling water over the dates. Cover and let soak for 1 hour.

Mix the ground flax seed with the 1/4 cup of water.  Mix together thoroughly and let sit for at least 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350F. 

Grease a square glass baking dish (make sure yours is broiler proof--mine wasn't, so I used a spring form pan, lined with parchment paper and foil.  I didn't do this on purpose, but I always end up ripping the lining, and thought a double layer to protect against the cake running out the bottom!)

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and 1/2 cup of nuts.

In another bowl, beat together coconut oil and sugar until well-combined and fluffy.  Add vinegar and the flax seed mixture and beat well. Add the dates and water and combine.

Pour the wet mixture into the dry and stir until it just comes together. Pour into the prepared baking dish and smooth the top.  Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until a tester comes out clean.

When the cake comes out of the oven, place an oven rack on the slot second to the top, and turn the broiler on high. Boil together in a sauce pan on medium high heat the brown sugar, coconut oil, dried coconut, coconut milk, and 1/4 cup of nuts. 

Boil for three minutes and quickly pour over the still warm cake before the mixture becomes hard. Broil for about 5 minutes, watching carefully to make sure the coconut doesn't burn.The frosting will bubble madly!

Take the cake out and let cool. You will have this pretty lacy topping for the cake.

Eat! It's even better the next day.


  1. yummy! hope Paddy liked it as much as you did!

    1. On the first night I made the cake, he ate his piece and mine before I could stop him! Luckily there were a few more slices...

  2. This is so delicious, thank you! I had my first tast of this last month at an Anglican Church Bake Sale in Switzerland and afterwards I knew I must find a vegan version. Fantastic and you're right that it gets better the next day! Cheers from the Swiss Alps.

  3. Thanks for reading, Christi! And I'm glad the cake came out well for you!

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