January 1, 2010

Starting The New Year On A Sweet Note: Date And Walnut Cake (or Loaf)

If one had to think of a Christmas cake, I'm guessing a lot of people around the world would think "fruit cake"! It's pretty much the same here in the two places I've lived in India where Christmas is celebrated in a big way. Whether in Kerala or in Goa, its all about preparing the fruit way ahead before Christmas and then turning it into a cake that is rich in spices and flavours.
Now, I'm really not a person who likes cakes much (unlike my husband) and I especially do not like cakes containing fruit soaked in liquor of any sort.

However, for my husband and me, cake at Christmas has meant Date And Walnut cake, for a long time now. This is because there is a delightful soft and light date and walnut cake available here at a local bakers' shop only at Christmas time.
This shop, called Mr.Baker (estd.1922) and run by two sisters, is very well known for it's more traditional but delicious bakes. In the past, we have been known to go back more than a couple of times during Christmas for their date and walnut cake.

A couple of months back, I had told my husband that I would try and make this cake at home at Christmas time this year, but all my plans for the year end did not materialize. This morning I thought I ought to make at least an attempt at this cake even though Christmas has been and gone.
It’s the festive season still and as far as we're concerned, a date and walnut cake (preferably the Mr. Baker kind of cake) is a cake for anytime of the year.

I searched for a suitable recipe but most of the ones I found were spiced cakes (I know, I know, it's supposed to be a Christmas cake!) with either had loads of butter or too many eggs for my comfort. So I finally put together a recipe adapted from too many recipes to mention in particular and made this cake.

While this cake turned out to be nowhere near the soft, light and delicious cake I wanted, it turned out to be very good in its own way. It’s a slightly dense but moist cake yet not very sweet, the perfect cake to serve with coffee or tea.


1 cup pitted dates, chopped coarsely

1 tsp baking soda

1 cup boiling-hot water

1 cup granulated sugar, firmly packed

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 tbsp melted butter

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 cups all purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

½ cup walnut, chopped


Put the dates in a slightly big bowl (you'll be mixing the batter in this) and sprinkle the baking soda over the dates. Pour the hot water over this so it covers the dates. Keep aside for about half an hour till the dates soften up and the water cools down.

Stir in the sugar, egg, butter and vanilla into the date mixture. Sift the all purpose flour and the baking powder together and add to the bowl along with the walnuts. Gently mix in this in till everything just combines.

Spoon the batter into a greased and floured (or parchment lined) 7" round cake tin. You may use a loaf tin if you choose.
Bake at 170C for about 50 minutes till cooked or till a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.
Serve with coffee or tea.

I'm sure most of you would have noticed that this blog of mine finally has a header after 2 years of existence! There will be a few small changes on my blog as I try and free it from clutter and make it a little more user friendly.
My blog should be done by the middle of this month, but in the meanwhile if you cannot find some links or some links do not work, please bear with me. This is a temporary state of affairs.

Before I finish this post, I thought I would share this little poem while reading something. The author has a very cheerful and positive way of looking into the New Year and it seems just right to me.

“Another fresh new year is here . . .

Another year to live!

To banish worry, doubt, and fear,

To love and laugh and give!

This bright new year is given me

To live each day with zest . . .

To daily grow and try to be

My highest and my best!

I have the opportunity

Once more to right some wrongs,

To pray for peace, to plant a tree,

And sing more joyful songs!”

-William Arthur Ward

"Wishing everyone a very Happy, Prosperous and Peaceful New Year!"


Ivy said...

The cake sounds delicious. Happy New Year! I hope your 2010 is filled with good health, happiness and prosperity!

pigpigscorner said...

A nice start! Happy new year!

Cham said...

Happy, Healthy and prosperous New Year- Lovely cake!

Lien said...

What a wonderful way to start the new year! walnuts and dates both yummy.
Lots of love and health for this new year for you and your loved ones Aparna!!
(Love your header btw!)

Shri said...

Wish you and your family a very happy new year, Aparna!The cake looks fantastic..

Rachana Kothari said...

Hey Aparna,

You have a great blog! Wishing you n your family a great 2010.

simplyfood said...

Its better late than never that you got to make the cake.Great looking cake and I am sure it tastes good too.Your blog header looks superb also.
Happy New year and wish you a fruitful year ahead.Keep safe and keep blogging!!!

Indhu said...

Happy New Year Aparna :)
I made a similar cake - without the dates but with dried cranberries... my own version of the christmas fruitcake :)

Bharti said...

I love d an w cake too...it's my very fav. kind of cake.
Wishing you and the family a wonderful new year!

s said...

nice cake..have seen mr bakers but never ventured..maybe next christmas now....

♥♥♥Ria♥♥♥ said...

Let me start of by wishing you and your family a very happy & prosperous new year!

I loved the new header!Your pics are so fabulous! I love the way you photograph it using wooden plank as a prop. I think I should try it too...we just bought a new wooden table :)

The cake looks fab!Perfect slice!

jayasri said...

Love the new header!!!, it looks fab, and starting with that cake the new year is absolutely gorgeous dear,
Wishing you and your family a very happy and prospersous filled new year, Love to see your a lot more of your recipes, introduction to them, findings, links, the verdict and the notes to do them!! :) I hope I have covered everything when I read your post!!, Have a blessed year ahead..

Hari Chandana said...

Yummyy cake... lovely presentation.. :)

arundati said...

love your new header... happy and a lovely new year to you

Natashya KitchenPuppies said...

So perfect with tea! Happy New Year to you and yours.

sra said...

I noticed the new header immediately, it looks marvellous. As most of us have greeted each other twice or thrice over about the New Year :-), I'll just say that the poem is nice, and so is your cake.

Tasty Eats At Home said...

Happy New Year - this cake is something I could definitely get used to having around. I love dates.

Lauren said...

Such a perfect way to start the year! Wishing you all the best for this new year =D.

Asha @ FSK said...

Heyyyy Aparna.. Wish you a very very happy and fabulous year ahead!! Just got back to the US.. still adjusting to life here..haha.. Sorry couldn't catch up with you in India.. was actually pretty hectic but fabulous time :)

TBC said...

The new header is lovely, Aparna.
A very happy 2010 to you and the family!

Trissa said...

Hi Aparna - this cake sounds very similar to what we have in the Philippines - also with dates and walnuts - called Food for the Gods - I am still searching for a recipe that replicates it... this might just do the trick!

Cristie said...

Your cake sounds wonderful and I love the poem. Sorry to hear about your dad (from the HBin5 group). Look forward to baking with you in 2010!

Elra said...

Happy New Year to you and your family Aparna. May this year bring lots of happiness.

your cake look scrumptious.

Madhuli said...

The cake looks absolutely delicious!Happy New year to you and Your family Aparna

Rohini Kamath said...

Very happy new year to you too.

Could you suggest a way to substitute the egg in this recipe ? Perhaps cornstarch and water?

If it can be done, would you pls mention the quantity?

Raaga said...

Happy new year Aparna. My wishes to Bala and Akshaya as well.

The cake looks yummy. I should try it. It was one of the 5 cakes for my birthday this year :) The dry variety keeps for much longer :) if it stays that is :)

Parita said...

Wishing you and your family a very Happy and Prosperous New Year!!
Your new header looks lovely!!
Date cake looks moist and perfect way to celebrate new year!

jayasree said...

Wishing you and your family a great year ahead.

Cake sounds delicious and only one egg which I think can be substituted.

Great header pic.

MeetaK said...

i adore fruit and nut cakes and this really does look delish. love the pics too aparna!

bake in paris said...

Aparna, Happy New Year!

Love this date and walnut cake. I am basically into anything that contains date. The presentation is wonderful and I can't wait to bake it in my kitchen. Thanks for sharing!

Sawadee from Bangkok,

chetna said...

This cake looks beautiful.
Please post a basic cake recipe. I always loved the basic cake in India from the bakery.

Deeba PAB said...

Love the cake, love the new header & love the resolve at the end Aparna. Beautiful pictures too my dear. Happy 2010!

shayma said...

dear deeba wishing you a very happy new year. i love that you made a date cake, as you know, i was supposed to make one when my husband arrived this weekend, but i got caught up with other things and was not able to make it. it's the one in which you use boiling water- i shall let you know how it goes. i love your new header and wish you lots of happiness not for 2010 but for always. best wishes, shayma

shayma said...

sorry aparna! i was reading our friend deeba's msg above my own and accidentally wrote her name in stead of yours, apologies! xo

Avanika [YumsiliciousBakes] said...

I love date and walnut cakes! Your recipe looks real different. I'm intrigued! Shall try this out next time :) Happy New Year :)

kavita Naik/Parxencar said...

WOW Aparna, I really like your blog,Have you tasted the Walnut cake in INfanteria Bakery in Calangute, do try it, it's awesome! I have become your fan,and will surely like to meet u on my trip to my home in Goa.

Aparna said...

Thanks for the wishes.Indhu, cranberries sounds good. Wish we got it here. :)

Ria, that is a wooden board we use for writing on, when sitting in the easy chair!!!

Its a pity, indeed! Next time, I hope. :D

Trissa, Food for the Gods! What an interesting name for a cake. Hope you find it. Would love to see one.

Thank you, Christie.

I don't think cornstarch would work here.
One way to substitute the egg would be to use a commercial product like Ener-G. Otherwise, you can use 1 tbsp powdered flax seed mixed in 3 tbsp warm water.

Raaga, 5 cakes for your b'day? That must have been some celebration! :)

Shayma, will wait to see that cake. And apologies accepted. :)

Will check out Infantaria next time. Would be nice to meet up. :)_

Shabs.. said...

Oh Aparna, Tha cake looks just toooooooooo good. Loved ur shot!especially the first one...