Coconut and date molasses cake with cardamom spiced icing

Not yet rated

Dina Begum's cake recipe takes inspiration from Patishapta pitha – a popular Bangladeshi rice crêpe filled with dates and coconut. The delicious cake has a moist texture thanks to the date molasses (date syrup), used instead of sugar. The cream cheese icing is expertly flavoured with cardamom and cinnamon, before being topped with toasted coconut.

First published in 2020

Autumn and winter in Bangladesh are synonymous with pitha – rice-based sweets and savouries which are prepared in celebration of the winter rice harvest or Nabanno (new rice). In many sweet pitha recipes there is the inclusion of coconut and date molasses – two key flavours in Bangladeshi cuisine – so I decided to bake an east-meets-west cake inspired by pitha season. This cake is super simple to make but tastes as though you’ve spent hours in the kitchen. Sweetened with morcha gur (date molasses) and wonderfully fragrant from coconut, it makes for a delicious addition to your baking repertoire. The cream cheese buttercream frosting is light, gently spiced and not overly sweet.

Morcha gur can be found in Bangladeshi grocery shops, however, you may substitute with jaggery which can be found in large supermarkets or Asian shops. Just chop into pieces and gently simmer until the jaggery is melted and cool to room temperature before adding to your batter. Alternatively, use equal amounts of date syrup and dark brown sugar.




Coconut and molasses cake

Spiced frosting


  • 23cm springform cake tin


Grease and line a 23cm cake tin and set aside
Place a pan over a medium-low heat and add the butter – preferably in a stainless steel or light-coloured pan (you need to be able to monitor the colour of the butter so you don’t burn it). After about 30 seconds or so the butter will begin to foam. Swirl the pan occasionally and cook for 3-4 minutes until it starts to smell nutty, almost caramel-like. You will begin to see small brown particles of milk solids at the bottom on the pan. Once done, take the pan off the heat transfer to a large mixing bowl and leave to cool for about 10 minutes
Preheat an oven to 190°C/gas mark 5
Once the butter has cooled, make the cake batter. Add the molasses to the butter and whisk through until well combined. In a separate bowl, mix together the eggs and milk and stream this into the butter and sugar mixture whilst whisking. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well
Pour the mixture into the cake tin and bake for 40–45 minutes, until a cake tester or skewer comes out clean when inserted into the centre of the cake. Leave the oven on, remove the cake and set aside to cool completely (around 1 hour)
Place the coconut flakes on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 3–5 minutes until light golden. Set aside to cool
For the frosting, use an electric whisk to whisk the butter and spices for a couple of minutes until pale. Add the cream cheese, vanilla extract and icing sugar and whisk for a further 2–3 minutes until the mixture is light and fluffy
Pile up the frosting on top of the cake evenly and top with the toasted coconut flakes
First published in 2020

Dina Begum a cookbook author and writer who is passionate about highlighting the recipes and food traditions of Bangladesh.

Get in touch

Please sign in or register to send a comment to Great British Chefs.