Last week, when I COULD NOT stop eating some delicious dried dates, I needed to take emergency action before I consumed the entire pound in one sitting. The solution was to bake these beauties into a wonderful date cake, a moist and yummy confection that's as good three days after it's baked as it is fresh from the oven.
Recipes featuring dates were extremely popular in the early to mid-20th century, when the vintage recipe card I used was probably written. Dried dates -- available year-round when most fruits were out of season up north -- added sweetness and moisture to all manner of baked goods.
Bake until a toothpick comes out clean. The edges of the cake will separate from the sides. Let it cool in the pan for about ten to 15 minutes...
before turning it out to cool completely.
Cake as Pac Man.
Because the instructions on the original recipe card are literally all over the place, I rewrote it for easy baking.
Preheat oven to 350 F
Grease and flour an 8 x 8 inch square or 9-inch round pan. (Square pan is best.)
1 c chopped dates
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 c chopped nuts
1 c boiling water
1/2 c (one stick) unsalted butter
1 c sugar
1 1/2 c all purpose flour
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t cloves
1/2 t salt
1 t vanilla or almond extract
In a bowl, combine dates, baking soda and boiling water. Set aside.
In another bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, cloves and salt.
Cream butter, add sugar and blend well.
Add egg and combine.
Add date mixture. Add nuts.
Add dry ingredients and blend.
Add in flavoring (vanilla or almond)
Combine well, pour into prepared pan and bake 35 to 40 minutes.
Let cool slightly and turn out of pan.
Dust with confectioner's sugar if desired.
Production notes: Do not add the nuts to the first mixture, which is covered with boiling water. That would make them too soft. I've also found that non-pitted dates are moister, so I use those, but the pitted ones would also be fine, especially because they are softened by the boiling water.