This ethereal roll cake is just one of the recipes in Molly Gilbert’s new book Sheet Pan Sweets: Simple, Streamlined Dessert Recipes (Union Square Co., 2022), and it’s a certified winner (she had us at ‘Sticky Toffee’….).  Here’s what Molly has to say about it:

“There are three essential parts to this sweet and sophisticated roll: A close textured date sponge, a thick vanilla cream, and a sticky, salted toffee sauce. Each element is special on its own, but combined? Divine. Though I admit this cake involves a bit more work than some of the others (we make our own date purée, mix up the sponge, whip up the cream, and then simmer the toffee sauce until perfectly thick and smooth), none of the steps are difficult, and the final product—a towering roll of sweet, salty, creamy magnificence—is worth the fuss.”

Serves 8 to 10



  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 1⁄2 cups (337 grams) pitted dates, preferably Medjool
  • Boiling water
  • 1 cup (130 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 5 large (250 grams) eggs
  • 1⁄2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1⁄2 cup packed (108 grams) brown sugar
  • Confectioners’ sugar


  • 1 cup (232 grams) heavy cream, cold
  • 8 ounces (227 grams) mascarpone cheese
  • 1⁄2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Kosher salt
  • Toffee Sauce
  • 1⁄2 cup (1 stick or 113 grams) unsalted butter
  • 6 tablespoons (87 grams) heavy cream
  • 1⁄2 cup packed (108 grams) brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt


Make the cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F with a rack in the center position. Grease a sheet pan with nonstick spray, line it with parchment, and grease the parchment, too.
  1. Place the dates in a medium, heatproof bowl and pour boiling water over to cover. Let the dates soak and absorb the water for 10 minutes, then use an immersion blender (or transfer to a standing blender) to puree until smooth.
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt.
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or in a large bowl with a handheld mixer, whip the eggs, granulated sugar, and brown sugar together on high speed until light yellow and doubled in volume, about 5 minutes. Mix in the date puree until smooth, then fold in the dry ingredients with a rubber spatula until the batter comes together without any streaks.
  1. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread it evenly to the corners with a large offset spatula. Bake for about 15 minutes, until the cake is well browned and springs back when gently poked in the center.
  1. While the cake bakes, lay a clean dish towel on a work surface and fill a fine-mesh sieve with about 1⁄2 cup (57 grams) confectioners’ sugar.
  1. Remove the cake from the oven and immediately run a paring knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the cake. Working quickly while the cake is still hot, sift a thin layer of confectioners’ sugar over the cake, then turn the cake out of the pan onto the dish towel, sugared side down. Carefully remove the baked-on parch- ment from the cake, then sprinkle a layer of confectioners’ sugar where the parchment used to be. Gently roll up the cake and the towel, starting from a short side and rolling away from yourself. Let the cake cool completely in the towel, about 35 minutes.

Make the filling

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the cream, mascarpone, granulated sugar, vanilla, and a pinch of salt until thick, smooth, and spreadable.

Make the toffee sauce

  1. In a small saucepan, warm the butter, cream, brown sugar, and salt over medium heat until melted and smooth, about 5 minutes. Bring to a simmer and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring gently, until the sauce coats the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Assemble the cake

  1. Once the cake is cool, unroll it onto a work surface. Spread the cream filling over the cake, leaving a 1⁄2-inch border. Tightly but gently roll up the cake with the filling inside (this time leave the towel behind). If you’d like, use a serrated knife to trim the ends of the roll to make neat edges. Carefully transfer the cake to a serving platter, seam side down.
  1. Pour the toffee sauce over the cake. Immediately cut the cake into thick slices to serve. The cake will keep, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Recipe reprinted with permission from Sheet Pan Sweets by Molly Gilbert (Union Square & Co., October 2022). Photography by Dana Gallagher.


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