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.
- 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 (340F) for about 50 minutes till cooked or till a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.
- Serve with coffee or tea.
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!"