Coconut, date and tamarind cake

Use mazafati dates if you can source them for this dairy-free treat.
Use mazafati dates if you can source them for this dairy-free treat. Photo: William Meppem

This dairy-free, spiced coconut cake keeps extremely well and is sweetened with unrefined sugar and dates. I've used fresh Iranian mazafati dates, although they're not strictly "fresh" as they have dried a little and darkened on the skin. The dates have an intense sweetness and should feel slightly puffy when you squeeze them.


450g fresh dates, pitted and chopped

400g tin coconut milk

50g coconut oil

200g dark muscovado sugar

3 tsp tamarind concentrate

2 tsp ground allspice

1/2 tsp ground cloves

75g dessicated coconut

2 eggs (60g each)

1 tsp bicarb of soda

300g plain flour

50g pecans or walnuts to finish


1. Put the dates in a saucepan with the coconut milk, oil, sugar, tamarind and spices. Bring to the boil and keep it there for two minutes, stirring occasionally, then pour into a large mixing bowl.

2. Stir in the desiccated coconut and leave until warm.

3. Beat in the eggs.

4. Add the bicarb of soda and stir it well so it foams up, then mix in the flour.

5. Spoon into a 23-centimetre springform cake tin lined with non-stick paper. Press the pecans into the top and bake at 180°C/160°C fan for about 50 to 60 minutes. For the last 20 minutes, reduce the temperature slightly to 170°C/150°C so the nuts don't burn. The cake is ready when an inserted skewer comes out cleanly. Leave to cool in the tin.