As part of my
vital research procrastinating while editing my novella draft, I have baked a date cake. My main character eats a bit of date cake during the story. Why a date cake? Because it’s a cozy mystery, and she starts her adventure in Palm Springs, California, and the surrounding area has date palm orchards.
I have actually baked up the same date cake recipe twice in the past month or so, trying to get it right. I used the recipe posted here.
I have not had fantastic success with it yet. The first time, a lot of the cake wasn’t baked through when I took it out of the oven, and about half of the loaf (the top half) had to be tossed. This time, I baked it about ten minutes longer, and the bottom fifth or so stuck to the bottom when I turned it out of my pan. I probably didn’t grease the pan as much as I should have. I was also using a narrow, deeper pan then the pan shown in the original recipe. That may have had something to do with the problems I’ve had with it too.
However, despite me, both times (the baked bits) have been quite tasty!
Date Fruit Cake
1 ½ cups dates chopped – and pitted.
1 ½ cups water
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ cup unsalted butter
¾ cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract. —- I used almond extract instead. I think it’s been in my pantry cupboard for over five years. Does extract go bad?
1 cup white flour
½ cup whole wheat flour
¼ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon baking powder
Very early Escape Pod episodes accompanied me in the kitchen as I made my second attempt at this cake.
First, start to pre-heat your oven to 350F.
Pit and chop your dates, if you need to. Boil the cup and a half of water in a pot, once it’s at a boil, add the dates, and let them cook for about 5 minutes. Then take it off the heat and add the baking soda to the pot. Let rest for 15 minutes.
Be confused when the original recipe says after 15 minutes this pot will be filled with a solid mixture you will then grind into a fine paste. That did not happen for me either attempt. But if it does happen for you, congratulations! Grind it into a fine paste.
In the meantime, cream butter and sugar together in a bowl.
Add eggs and extract, and combine. Then add the flour and salt and baking powder. And the dates.
Return to your non-paste in the pot. Dump most of it into the mixing bowl, leaving some of the liquid behind, because it’s not clear that there is supposed to be date liquid. I will likely reduce the water to a cup full, the next time I try this recipe. Maybe that will help?
Mix everything up in the bowl.
Grease baking pan. Grease well. Pour batter into pan, put pan into 350F oven.
Bake for anywhere between 30 and 40 minutes, depending on your pan’s shape and size.
Enjoy, despite it maybe sticking to the pan!
This cake loaf resembles banana bread in texture, although of course it does not taste like bananas! The dates seem to dissolve into the loaf as it bakes.