I don’t think my parents will ever forgive me for moving away. It is not an uncommon occurrence for one or the other to remind me that I am never around for significant events and birthdays. One of the hardest times for my mum is Mother’s Day. She was incredibly close to her mum, my Nana, and this little celebration has always been a big one in my family.
I couldn’t get home for Mother’s Day so I promised her that when I was back in Brisbane I would make her a special cake.
Sticky date Cake with Caramel Custard and Cream Cheese Frosting
I created this cake for my mum, incorporating all of her favourite things as well as some nostalgic touches: lashings of cream cheese frosting (she always used to get the carrot cake from the local cafe just for the cream cheese frosting), and my Nana’s famous caramel topping.
We were eating thick, gooey caramel piled into tart shells, and layered between sponge cakes topped with cream, for years before caramel became fashionable… or contained salt. When I looked up this recipe in my Nana’s beautifully organised, handwritten recipe file I discovered it is more of a caramel custard. Whatever you want to call it, it’s delicious – thick and rich and perfect for topping all kinds of things. Spoiler alert: I’m going to try it in ice cream. Oh yes I am.
I teamed it with a moist (I love that word, I don’t care what anyone says) and fluffy sticky date cake, plenty of cream cheese icing and some caramelised pecans. All my mum’s favourite things packed into one decadent cake.
Also, this post is a special one. I am joining in on a Virtual Biggest Morning Tea created by JJ from 84th & 3rd and Sally from Simmer & Boyle. This is a special event to raise funds for the Australian Cancer Council and this recipe is a particularly appropriate one. You see, the master of the amazing caramel topping there, my Nana, was taken from us far too soon after a long and very painful battle with cancer. If you are in the position to, I would love you to donate by following this link. And if you are a food blogger, why not check out the details on these amazing blogs and join in too.
What would you have to include in a special cake for your mum?
- 2 1/4 cups (315g/11oz) chopped dates
- 1 1/2 cups (375ml) boiling water
- 1 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 150g/5.3oz unsalted butter, chopped
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1 1/2 cups self raising flour
- 1 Tbsp flour
- 1/8 tsp salt (optional)
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup milk
- 2 eggs
- 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 1/4 tsp vanilla essence
- 250g cream cheese, softened
- 50g unsalted butter, softened
- 1 1/2 cups icing sugar, sifted
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 cup pecans
- 2 Tbsp brown sugar
- 1 Tbsp butter
- Preheat oven to 160C/320F
- Grease and line two 20cm cake tins with baking paper.
- Place dates and water in a medium saucepan and bring to the boil. Remove from heat and allow to cool a few minutes before adding bicarbonate of soda (it might fizz up a bit).
- Beat butter and sugar until creamy, add date mixture and mix until just combined.
- Add eggs and flour and mix until just combined.
- Pour mixture evenly between tins.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes.
- Allow cakes to cool in tin for 10 minutes before turning onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- Place flour, salt, sugar and half of the milk in a medium saucepan and mix until combined
- Whisk eggs in a small bowl and whisk in the other half of the milk.
- Add egg mixture and butter to the saucepan and mix well.
- Place saucepan over a low to medium heat, whisking constantly (to avoid lumps) until mixture starts to thicken (about 10-15 minutes).
- Remove from heat and stir through vanilla essence.
- Allow to cool to room temperature before chilling in the fridge.
- Beat the cream cheese and butter together until creamy. Do not overmix.
- Gradually add icing sugar and beat between additions, you might like to add a little more if you want a stiffer icing.
- Add vanilla and beat until combined.
- Refrigerate to firm it up before frosting
- Place nuts, sugar and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat and stir until butter and sugar are melted and coating the nuts (about 5 minutes).
- Spread out on parchment paper, separating the nuts and allow them to cool.
- Place one cake on a serving plate.
- Pipe blobs (or fancy rosettes) of cream cheese around the edge of the cake, leaving a space in between. Continue in a spiral over the rest of the layer.
- Fill spaces between cream cheese with blobs (or rosettes) of caramel custard.
- Place second cake on top.
- Thickly spread cream cheese frosting on the top of the cake.
- Add dollops of caramel topping.
- Using the back of a teaspoon, swirl the caramel into the frosting.
- Top with caramelised nuts.
- Can be made a day ahead.
- To allow for chill times, I made the components in the following order: caramel custard, cake, cream cheese frosting, caramelised nuts.
- Be careful not to overbeat the cream cheese frosting or it can become quite runny.