Serving the cake warm is a must, with a dollop of cream or good-quality ice cream. The burnt sugar figs add a classy and delicious touch, but pears or banana would also be lovely if figs aren’t in season.






Skill level

Average: 4 (3 votes)


  • 300 g (10½ oz) pitted dates, chopped
  • 405 ml (13½ fl oz/1⅔ cups) hot water
  • 1½ tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
  • 150 g (5½ oz) salted butter, chopped and softened
  • 230 g (8 oz/1 cup) brown sugar
  • 1 tsp natural vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
  • 225 g (8 oz/1½ cups) self-raising flour (or gluten-free flour)

Salted Caramel Sauce

  • 345 g (12 oz/1½ cups) brown sugar
  • 150 g (5½ oz) salted butter
  • 250 ml (8½ fl oz/1 cup) pouring (single/light) cream
  • 1 tsp natural vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp sea salt flakes


  • 25 g (1 oz) butter
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 4 fresh figs, quartered

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C (340°F). Line a 22 cm (8¾ inch) round cake tin with baking paper.
  2. Combine the dates and hot water in a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Allow the dates to boil for 2 minutes. Add the bicarbonate of soda and mix well to combine, then allow the mixture to sit for 2–3 minutes. Add the butter, sugar and vanilla and mix well until the butter has completely melted.
  3. Transfer the date mixture to a large mixing bowl and allow to cool down for about 5 minutes. Add the eggs and flour and stir until combined.
  4. Pour the mixture into the cake tin and bake for 1 hour, or until cooked through.
  5. Meanwhile, make the caramel sauce. Put the sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. When the sugar begins to melt, add the butter, cream and vanilla and whisk well to combine. Bring the mixture to a simmer, then reduce the heat and cook slowly for a few minutes. Turn off the heat, then add the sea salt and mix well. Set the sauce aside.
  6. To prepare the figs, place the butter and sugar in a non-stick frying pan over medium heat and cook for 2 minutes, whisking. Add the figs, cut side down, and cook for 1–2 minutes, or until golden. Remove the sugary figs from the pan and set aside on a plate.
  7. When the cake is cooked, remove from the oven. While it’s still hot in the tin, pour a few spoonfuls of the caramel sauce over the cake.
  8. Remove the cake from the tin and allow to cool slightly, then transfer to a serving plate. Pour over more caramel sauce, reserving some for adding to individual serving portions. Arrange the figs on top of the cake and serve.


Recipe and images from The Shared Table by Clare Scrine, Smith Street Books, RRP $39.99