A rich and sticky date and apple cake recipe with no added sugar. This cake is perfect as a mid-morning snack and makes a healthy dessert too!
Eat less sugar
Recently I've become interested in the idea of sugar free baking. Have you heard the theory that you can omit up to a third of the sugar in most cake recipes without it affecting the cake? Except to make it less sweet of course. I can't say I've tested the theory to that extent but I often add little less sugar than a recipe states. This particular date and apple cake contains no added sugar but still tastes sweet.
Personally I don't have a particularly sweet tooth but unfortunately my children seem to be developing one. I certainly don't want them to eat too much sugar so when I was asked if I'd like to review a copy of Simply Sugar Free by Susanna Booth, I said yes straightaway.
What's this sticky date and apple cake like?
My first recipe choice was this sticky date and apple cake, based on an Omani recipe. The cake is sweetened with apple and dates. Despite having no added sugar in, it is quite sweet. It also smells deliciously rich and treacly as the dates and apple are cooking. It results in a rich, moist and soft cake.
But what did the children think?
Well, they ate a little of the date and apple cake but were a bit put off by the apple slices on the top. So, no decoration next time!
What ingredients do you need for sticky date and apple cake?
To make this cake you'll need:
- Sweet apples - The apples as well as the dates add sweetness to this cake so don't replace them with cooking apples.
- Lemon juice - This is just to stop the apple slices you use to decorate the cake from going brown. It doesn't matter if you use freshly squeezed lemon juice or bottled lemon juice.
- Pitted dried dates
- Unsalted butter
- Bicarbonate of soda - Also called baking soda
- Eggs - I use large eggs
- Plain whole wheat flour
- Baking powder
- Vanilla extract
What substitutions can you make?
If you can't get hold of all the ingredients don't worry. I used apples for this cake of course but I'm sure it would work with pears instead.
If you don't have plain wholemeal flour then just use plain white flour. You can also substitute self-raising flour for the plain flour. Just add half a teaspoon of baking powder.
How do you make this sugar free apple and date cake?
This cake is fairly easy to make but there are a few steps to make it. For full details see the recipe card further down this page.
First set aside one apple. Then peel, core and dice the other apple and put it in a saucepan with the water and dates. Boil for about 3 minutes.
Take the pan off the heat and stir in the butter till it melts. Then add the bicarbonate of soda. It will foam up but that is supposed to happen!
Then put this plus all the other ingredients into a food processor or blender and blitz until smooth. Pour this cake batter into a greased and lined 20cm square cake tin. Slice the apple you set aside earlier and lay the slices on top of the cake to decorate it.
Bake in the oven for about 40 minutes.
How long will this cake stay fresh for?
If you keep this cake in an airtight container at room temperature it should keep well for at least 3 days.
About Simply Sugar Free
The book, Simply Sugar Free, also published as Sensationally Sugar Free, is crammed full of sweet recipes for cakes, desserts, ice creams, snacks and sauces, all of which use alternatives to sugar as a sweetener. Most of the recipes in the book use fruit or vegetables, especially dried fruit as a sweetener. Of course, the fruit still contains sugar but it also contains fibre, vitamins and minerals. So overall it's a healthier choice.
Some of the recipes use stevia, which is naturally derived from the stevia plant. It is 200 times stronger than sucrose so only a little is needed and it can taste bitter if too much is used. I have to admit, I'm a little suspicious of it and prefer to stick to recipes using fruit as a sweetener. Luckily the book contains plenty to choose from.
More recipes in Simply Sugar Free
The other recipe I've tried so far is the peanut snack bars which are sweetened with dried figs. Now, if you are a runner like I am, these make the perfect post-run snack as they are filled with dried fruit and plant protein from the nuts and seeds.
But even if you're not a runner (and I know most of you aren't!) they just make a sweet nutty snack. I made them as bars as that's how they were presented in the book. Alternatively you could roll them into balls. My kids love to eat bars as a snack but I have to say they were suspicious of these as they didn't come with a wrapper on!
So what next?
Well, the recipes I've tried so far have been more popular with me than with the children. However, I do have my eye on a number of other recipes in the book. Both children love dried apricots so I plan to make the apricot and lemon cake. I also fancy trying the oatmeal raisin cookies, the raw gingerbread and the apple freezer flapjacks! I will definitely let you know if I do!
Some more sugar free bakes
If you like this sugar free sticky date and apple cake and would like to try some more recipes free from added sugar then do check out the ones below:
You might also like my fruity carob chocolate cake. It's not sugar free but it does have lots of apple in.
Sugar Free Sticky Date and Apple Cake
- 350 g sweet apples about 2-3
- 1 tablespoon Lemon juice optional as not in the original recipe
- 250 g pitted dried dates
- 250 ml water
- 100 g unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- 2 eggs
- 150 g plain whole wheat flour
- 2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan.
- Grease a square 20cm tin with a little extra butter and line the bottom with baking paper.
- Core the apples. Cut one of the apples (150g) into slices. Squeeze a little lemon juice on and set aside.
- Chop the rest of the apple and put it in a saucepan with the dates and water. Boil until the apple is soft (about 3 minutes).
- Take the pan off the heat and stir in the butter till it melts then stir in the bicarbonate of soda. Don't worry, it's supposed to foam up!
- Put the remaining ingredients - eggs, flour, baking powder and vanilla- in a food processor. Add the date mixture and blend until it is combined.
- Transfer the mixture to the prepared cake tin. Arrange the apple slices on the top.
- Bake for about 40 minutes. A skewer should come out clean when it is ready.
Pin for Later
Places I'm sharing this sticky date and apple cake
Cook Once Eat Twice hosted by me, Corina here at Searching for Spice
Disclosure: I was sent a complimentary copy of Simply Sugar Free but all opinions of the recipes are my own.
Tried it yesterday for my mom's birthday. She is diabetic so any reason to avoid sugar. The cake turned out moist and delicious and was polished off in minutes kids and all! Thank you so much for the wonderful recipe.
Thanks so much for letting me know how much you enjoyed this. I'm especially pleased that the kids liked it as I'm always trying to get mine to eat sugar -free bakes!
Love the idea of using dates as a sugar substitute and the texture that it gives. Somehow makes the cake more filling.
Oh yes! It is also quite a heavy cake but it's good to know that it is heavy in a healthy way!
Cat | Curly's Cooking
I've used stevia in a cake before but I'd be much happier to try dates etc to add natural sweetness. These look great!
Thanks so much Cat! I suppose the problem with dates is that they do also add some date flavour which is fine in this cake but it wouldn't always work.
This looks really delicious - i’ve been interested in trying out some lower sugar bakes so will pin this to make in the very near future!
Thanks Nickki! I'm always hoping I can fully convert my family by sneaking in lower sugar options when I can!
Sugar free desserts are always a win win. Love dates so much. This cake looks so fabulous
Thanks Esha! It's really lovely and sticky and does taste quite sweet anyway because of the dates.
Sounds like a great concept for a book and if this cake is anything to go by, it must be good.
It is! I really need to get the book out again and try the recipes I never quite got around to making when I first got it!
Hiya, This is a lovely recipe, thank you for taking the time to write the article. I am a foodie lover and I like making milk tart.
Yum! Such a wonderful cake for autumn. I have only recently started using dates in my baking. Would love to try this.
I hope you like it! I'm still hoping to try some more sugar free bakes.
Looks so so good.. Just what I need when I am avoiding baking because of sugars.
Exactly! I found with this cake I didn't miss the sugar either because of the sweetness of the dates.
I think I'll definitely have to get my hands on a copy of this book! This recipe looks amazing and I know it'd go down a treat in my house!
I'm sure you'd love it Cliona. I really liked it and it is quite sweet because of the dates despite not having any refined sugar in.
Apples and dates are a great combination. This cake looks tasty and perfect for a fall dessert.
Thanks Ellen! It's a great way to use up a few extra apples at this time of year.
This cake (and that cookbook) looks so good. I love t\when treat are sweetened with dates.
Thanks Ginny! I'm definitely starting to really enjoy treats made with desserts and without so much refined sugar.
Have you tried with any gluten freenflour substitutes? Coconut or almond? As it is so moist (we made it last night and OMG delighted!!) I thought maybe almond flour might be OK?
I'm afraid I haven't tried it with any gluten free flour substitutes. I'm not an expert at gluten free baking but I agree that almond flour would probably work. Do let me know if you try it like that.
Aren't children contrary little creatures? I know mine would prefer this without the decoration instead. I would just prefer a HUGE slice of it. Thanks so much for sharing your incredible recipe with #BakeoftheWeek x
Thanks Helen! I'm so pleased you like it. Just wish my children weren't so fussy but at least I'm not alone!
There is a real drive at the moment to replace heavily refined sugar with more natural sugars such as those in dried fruits, syrups and honey and I think they work really well. This cake looks so moist and full of flavour.
Oh yes, it is really moist and definitely full of flavour. The dates worked really well and I didn't miss the sugar at all.
Sugar-free cake always makes me feel less guilty about indulging. This looks lovely. I have a recipe for sugar-free banana cake on my blog 🙂
Me too! I always feel better after eating them too. I'll have to have a look at your banana cake. I imagine it works well without sugar as bananas are so sweet anyway, especially once they've gone a little overripe!
Kate - gluten free alchemist
Love this cake Corina. I don't really use dates much in baking, but really should give them a try. I imagine they go perfectly with the apple. Yum! x
Yes, the dates and apple together were really rich and treacly! Definitely a good combo x
That is so beautiful and sounds so delicious!
Aww thanks Beth!
oooh this looks so good!! And no sugar!! Fantastic. Healthy desserts are definitely becoming more and more popular, so I'll definitely be saving this recipe for later 🙂
Sugar free is definitely popular at the moment and I found with this recipe I didn't miss the added sugar as the dates are so sweet! I have to say my family still prefer desserts with more sugar in but I am working on them!
Edyta at Innocent Delight
This cake looks fantastic. i really love using dates instead of sugar. thanks for the recipe.
Thanks Edyta! The dates are a great alternative aren't they as you certainly don't miss the sugar in this recipe.
My kids call dates--"God's candy" So this is perfect for them! Perfectly sweet!
If only my kids were that much into dates! Hopefully one day!
What a gorgeous looking cake!! Looks like a must try!
Thanks Felesha! I tried to make the apples look pretty on top, although I didn't manage to make it entirely symetrical!
MyCookingSecrets.com | Krystallia Giamouridou
So glad to have found your website. It is rare to find sugar-free recipes.
Thanks, although I only have a few sugar-free recipes at the moment! My husband has a very sweet tooth but I'm trying to stop my children eat too much sugar so anything healthier that they'll eat too makes me happy!
Bintu - Recipes From A Pantry
This looks scrumptious, and sugar free too! I'm in
Thanks Bintu! I'm trying my best to eat less sugar but it can be difficult sometimes, especially when fighting against the will of sweet toothed little people!
I love that you have used the dates in this to make it sugar free, brilliant idea and with the apple I can imagine how sticky and gorgeous this bake is. It is a wonderful colour too. I have a big sweet tooth but I do make sugar free recipes from time to time and often add less sugar to my cake recipes.
thank you for linking to #Bakeoftheweek x
You're welcome! I was planning to link it up last week but totally forgot.
Kat (The Baking Explorer)
Wow this cake looks amazing, fab that it's sugar free too. I love the way you've arranged the apple on top.
Thanks Kat! I think the cake has been one of my more successful sugar free bakes. I really enjoyed it and would definitely make it again if it was more popular with the rest of my family!
Eb Gargano | Easy Peasy Foodie
Love this cake!! Like you I am very interested in sugar free baking...the trouble is, most of the time my kids are not interested unless it's crammed full of sugar...really need to find a few healthy dessert recipes that they DO like! Eb x
It is so hard to find healthier sweet snacks that the children will eat, isn't it? My children definitely prefer recipes with loads of sugar in too but I am going to keep trying with the sugar free recipes! x
Both these recipes look good. Thank you for linking to #CookBlogShare
have to say I am guilty of having a sweet tooth and do like cake and desserts a lot but I don't like them when they are too sweet.
Thanks Jacqui! I do love cakes too but definitely feel better about eating them when they aren't too sweet!
Michelle Frank | Flipped-Out Food
I'm like you: no sweet tooth—but my hubster and kids are a different matter! I love that you use dates in this cake. Overall, this is a much healthier option for a sweet treat, so I'll definitely be making this for my cookie monsters!
My husband also has such a sweet tooth. I blame him for why the children are developing more of a taste for sweet foods! I hope your cookie monsters like this. Good luck!
Kirsty Hijacked By Twins
Ooooh this looks so good. I do love the look of the peanut snack bar too! Dates are such a great ingredient for bakes. Thank you for sharing with #CookBlogShare x
I'm pleased you like it! I need to try some more of the recipes soon too. I think because dates are quite a strong flavour the children weren't quite sure about the cake. I think if I try some more of the apricot or raisin recipes I might have some more success with them. x