Chocolate-date layer cake with peanut butter chocolate ganache

Dan Lepard's chocolate-date layer cake with peanut butter and chocolate ganache.
Dan Lepard's chocolate-date layer cake with peanut butter and chocolate ganache. Photo: William Meppem

Until they discover that the universe was formed by a giant cake exploding, baking science will forever remain kitchen-based. Without realising it, we're invoking complex science to create even the simplest birthday cake. We often feel a twinge of panic when we read the packaging of shop-bought cakes and see ingredients like emulsifiers, humectants, modified starches and invert sugars, even though, say, the old-fashioned boiled date cake that my mum makes contains all of those things.


175g pitted dates

300ml boiling water

100g peanut, almond or cashew butter

125g unsalted butter, cubed

275g dark brown sugar

75g cocoa

3 eggs (60g each)

3 tsp vanilla extract

200g plain flour

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

Peanut butter chocolate ganache

200g double cream

75g brown sugar

225g dark chocolate (70 per cent)

75g smooth peanut butter

2 tbsp dark rum or milk


1. Line the bases of two deep, round 18-centimetre layer cake tins with discs of non-stick paper and heat the oven to 180C or 160C fan-forced.

2. Put the dates in a bowl, pour the boiling water in then leave for five minutes. Add the peanut butter and unsalted butter then puree in a food processor until smooth.

3. Pour the date mixture into a bowl and beat in the sugar and cocoa, then the eggs and vanilla. Sift the flour with the baking soda and baking powder, then fold in until just combined.

4. Divide the mixture evenly between the tins and bake for about 30 minutes.

5. For the ganache, boil the cream, stir in the sugar then pour over the chopped chocolate in a bowl. Add the peanut butter and rum then stir slowly until the chocolate dissolves. Leave until almost set, then spread and assemble the cakes while the ganache is thick and smooth.

Serves 8 to 10