Queen Mother's Date & Walnut Cake


This cake has appeared in many recipe books since the 1940s, proclaiming it to be the favourite cake of the then Queen Elizabeth and that she had said it must only be made to raise money for charity. However, I understand that both Buckingham Palace and Clarence House have denied this. and requested that it should only be called 'date and walnut cake'. I sent my “Official Taster” off to work with it (it was far too large for the two of us, although goodness knows we tried) with instructions that it was only to be given to colleagues who pledged to buy fete grand draw tickets.

Ingredients - to fill a 9” x 12” (23cm x 30cm) Swiss roll tin

8oz (225g) dried dates, chopped 1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
8oz (225g) caster sugar 10oz (275g) plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder 1 large egg, beaten
2oz (50g) walnuts, chopped 3oz (75g) butter
For the topping:  
5 tablespoons brown sugar 2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons single cream  


  1. Pour a breakfast cup of boiling water over the dates and add the bicarbonate of soda. Let it stand for the time it takes to:
  2. Cream the butter with the sugar in a bowl, then beat in the egg and vanilla.
  3. Mix together the flour, baking powder and salt and add to the creamed mixture.
  4. Add the date mixture and stir well.
    (If using a food processor, place all the ingredients except the date mixture, into the bowl and process until well blended. Add the date mixture and process until all the dry ingredients have been included.)
  5. Grease and line the bottom of the Swiss roll tin and pour in the mixture, making sure to spread it to the edges.
  6. Heat oven to 180º/350F/Gas mark 4. Bake cake for 35 minutes or until tester comes out clean.
  7. To make the topping: Put the butter, brown sugar and cream into a small heavy saucepan and put on a low heat until the butter has melted.
  8. Bring to the boil, then boil gently for 3 minutes stirring all the time.
  9. Spread over warm baked cake.
  10. When cool cut cake into slices and store in a airtight tin.

I shall be baking this for selling in the Fete Tea Tent. If you are stuck for ideas for fete cake recipes there are other recipes identified in the Cookery Book. Remember, both the Tea Tent and the Cake Stall will be grateful for your donations.