Date and Coffee Sponge Cake With A Coffee Glaze

Speaking of British food people, did you know that Daniel Day-Lewis’s sister is a cookbook writer over there? Her name is Tamasin Day-Lewis and hey, look, she’s on Twitter. I picked up her book Supper For A Song when I visited Kitchen Arts & Letters in New York; I’ve really enjoyed flipping through it, so on the day I made that chicken tagine I decided to put her book to the test for dessert. You never know if a cookbook purchase has been worthwhile until you cook from it. Would this one measure up? Click ahead to find out.

It measured up!

I mean, this recipe couldn’t have been easier. You make the simplest of simple cake batters by beating together eggs, sugar, flour, baking powder, melted butter, milk and coffee; then you fold in pitted dates. That’s the cake.


Pop that into a 300 degree oven and let it bake for 30 minutes. In fact, this was so easy we have some time here to talk about other things. Have you guys been watching Girls? I’m embarrassed to say we canceled HBO before moving back to New York for three months. When we came back here, we didn’t pay to have it turned back on because, ya know, it’s expensive. So we haven’t been watching Girls but we’ve been watching RuPaul’s Drag Race which may be the best show on T.V. Seriously. It’s got a great mixture of camp and heart. I’m rooting for Jinkx Monsoon to go all the way. She’s the first Jewish drag queen I’ve ever encountered, unless you count my Grandma Marna.

Oh, looks like the cake’s done!


Now we just have to make the glaze. Here’s how you make it: whisk together confectioners’ sugar, melted butter, and some coffee. Boom you’ve got a glaze.


Pour the glaze on the cake and you’ve got dessert.


In fact, this made so much cake I forced one of my dinner guests to take the rest to work the next day because leaving this here would’ve been dangerous. What makes it great is the earthy, bitter coffee flavor up against the natural sweetness of the dates. Day-Lewis says this could almost be a “pudding” which must be a British thing; in America, calling this a pudding would get you kicked out of Bill Cosby’s house.

Give this a go next time you need a quick, interesting dinner party dessert. You’ll have plenty of time to watch RuPaul’s Drag Race when you’re done.

Recipe: Date and Coffee Sponge Cake with a Coffee Glaze

Summary: From Tasamin Day-Lewis’s Supper For A Song.


  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks butter) PLUS 1 1/2 tablespoons for the glaze
  • 4 tablespoons very strong brewed coffee
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup light muscovado sugar or light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups (scant) all-purpose flour
  • 2 level teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup pitted dates, chopped into quarters
  • 1 cup unrefined confectioners’ sugar


  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Grease an 11 X 7 baking pan or a pan with similar dimensions (I used 9 X 13 which worked fine), about 2 inches deep.
  2. Melt the 1 1/2 sticks butter in a small pan and set aside. Whisk the eggs using an electric mixer. Add the sugar, flour, baking powder, melted butter, milk, and 2 tablespoons coffee. Whisk until amalgamated, then fold in the dates by hand. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan, making sure the dates are evenly distributed.
  3. Bake for 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Place the pan on a rack to cool the cake slightly while you make the glaze.
  4. For the glaze, place the confectioners’ sugar in a bowl. Melt the 1 1/2 tablespoons butter and, while it is still hot, pour onto the confectioners’ sugar, followed by the reserved 2 tablespoons coffee. Stir until smooth. The consistency should be thick, so that you know the glaze will set as it cools. If it seems to thick, whisk in some boiling water (1 to 2 tablespoons) to thin.
  5. Pour the glaze over the cake and smooth it gently with a spatula. It should just cover the cake.
  6. As Tamasin Day Lewis says, “If you can restrain yourself from cutting the first slice until the frosting has cooled and set, good for you.”

Preparation time: 20 minute(s)

Cooking time: 30 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 12

13 thoughts on “Date and Coffee Sponge Cake With A Coffee Glaze”

  1. This looks great – thank you. I’m going to make it for friends on Thursday. As a British amateur cook, can I make a small correction: it’s Tamasin Day-Lewis (not Tasamin). I agree it’s really interesting how celebrity cooks are completely different in America and the UK. I’d never thought about it before. I hadn’t heard of any of yours!!

  2. I have loved date cakes ever since I had my first one at Moto in Brooklyn. At home, I puree the dates because I’m anti-dried-fruit-baked-into-things. What is the consistency of the whole dates once baked? Chewy, snappy or totally soft?

  3. Hello,
    I was confused by the “pudding” thing in Great Britain too …. it’s actually just the term for dessert !
    Love your blog. Hope you don’t mind occasional input.

  4. While pudding is generic British English for dessert, I’ve noticed during my time here that it also seems to imply something that is especially saucy as well; sticky toffee pudding, for example, seems a near relative of the above dessert and it is produces quite a bit of sauce, though perhaps not enough to be considered self-saucing (a category of puddings I have yet to attempt).

    I love Tamasin Day-Lewis, not the least because she titled one of her books Tarts with Tops On.

  5. You mention in your post that you would love a burnt milk custard recipe. Over here in France/Switzerland we simply pop a large unopened can (without the label and after having removed all traces of glue or the pan will hate you) of sweetened condensed milk in a saucepan and cover with water and then let it simmer for about 2 hours. Et voila !

  6. Can we talk RuPaul’s Drag Race real quick? It’s seriously one of the best reality shows on TV. No, wait… it’s the best reality show EVER. I didn’t want Ivy Winters kicked off (Hope that didn’t spoil it for anyone!) simply because of the way Ru said her name every single time (Ivyyyyyy Winterrrrrrrrrrrs). I like Jinx, too! She’s one classy queen.

    Aside: Anyone who doesn’t know who Little Edie Bouvier is, get to watching Grey Gardens!

    Sorry this comment had nothing to do with food! :)

  7. Re: Pudding and Dessert. I think the distinction in Britain is that a pudding tends to be hot or warm, dense, often served with custard or another warmer sauce, while desserts tend to be colder and lighter.

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