Many grandmas are great at cooking or baking, but not many are great with actually documenting their recipes or even quantifying them! Although this cake is so simple, it was actually one of the hardest to figure out and took a lot of trial and error to finally get this recipe as close as possible to the date cake my grandma would make growing up.
Just one bite of this cake transports me back to my grandma's kitchen and the time we had a party at school and I asked my grandma to bake a cake. I had a chocolate cake in mind, of course, because I was eight and what did I know? She baked this date cake, and I definitely wasn't pleased, but it was what it was, and I took it to school, only to find that it was completely gone, and it was only then that I realised just how delicious this plain cake actually is.
What else makes a dessert better than the fact that it comes together so quickly and only needs a bowl! You can definitely use a stand or hand mixer, but in honour of my grandma, I always make this cake by hand, with just a bowl and a wooden spoon. Most of the ingredients are things we have at hand, so it is just a matter of remembering to take the butter out to soften. With the spices, you can use as little or as much as you like and you can also switch them up for different tastes, like adding cardamom instead. This cake isn't complicated at all, but an important step is to remember not to pour out the water on the dates, but to use it in the cake, as that is the only liquid we are adding. Soaking the dates gives us softer dates and date-flavoured water, so it is a win-win.
When baking, make sure you use a tin big enough for the batter. I always love using a bundt cake pan for this recipe because it is what my grandma uses, and it is not too dense, and you get a lovely crispy top. This cake is so super moist and delicious that it doesn't need a frosting or glaze, just a dusting of icing sugar is the perfect touch. Have this warm, out of the oven, with a cup of tea or coffee and enjoy!
275 g plain flour
100 g sugar
110 g unsalted butter (room temperature)
1 large egg
Dash of salt
1 ¼ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 ½ tsp nutmeg
2 tsp vanilla extract
200 g dates, pitted and chopped soaked in 1 ¼ cup hot water
100 g walnuts, roughly chopped
Powdered sugar for dusting
- In a large bowl or stand mixer, mix together the sugar and butter. Add the egg and vanilla and whisk well.
- Add in the rest of the ingredients, except the dates and water and walnuts. Mix well.
- Add in the dates with the water they were soaked in and mix, then fold in the walnuts.
- Pour batter into cake tin of choice, I find that a bundt pan works best.
- Bake at 180 C for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Baking time will vary depending on the size and type of tin you use.
- Once cooled, place on serving platter and dust with powdered sugar and enjoy with a cup of tea or coffee.
For the main course: Ajnihat jaj mashwiyeh (grilled chicken wings)