Date and Nut Loaf Cake

Soft, fluffy and studded with dates and walnuts, this date and nut loaf cake is delicious all year around.

Although this recipe is rather easy to put together, it carries a medley of flavour, courtesy of the rum and dates, which add rich, caramel undertones to this loaf. The walnuts add a nice crunch, but feel free to replace them with any other nut of your liking, think pecans or the likes. 

The cake itself is rather light and soft, more so than a banana bread, though its appearance resembles the latter more closely. It’s lovely with a cup of tea or coffee, and I find that it tastes even better the next day. This recipe is similar to the base of a sticky toffee pudding [1] with a slightly more complex flavour. Like a sticky toffee pudding, you can accompany the date and nut loaf with caramel sauce should you wish. I’d recommend my favourite salted caramel recipe [2], embedded in my salted caramel whisky truffles post. 

a photograph of the date and nut loaf cake

Let’s talk about the recipe.

Dates

The better the dates, the tastier the cake. I like to use Iranian or Medjool dates [3], a nice plump kind will do well. Though drier dates are also fine, just as long as they taste good. 

If you like, you can replace the dates with dried apricot or prunes, but you won’t have the same sweet caramel undertone. 

Rum

Rum takes this date and nut loaf cake to the next level. If you’re concerned about the alcohol in the recipe, it evaporates when baking, but leaves a delicious, bittersweet hue behind. Try it. 

But, if you’d really like to opt out, you can replace the rum with hot water or coffee. 

a photograph of the date and nut loaf cake

Leavening agents

This recipe calls for both, baking powder and soda. I wouldn’t advise you to replace one with the other since they have different properties. But, if you’re wondering what the difference between baking powder and baking soda [4] is, I’ve written all about it here [4].

This date and nut loaf will entice, slice after tender slice. And without further ado, the recipe. Let me know how you like it! 

a photograph of the date and nut loaf cake

Date and Nut Loaf Cake

Ingredients:

  • 300 g (1-½ cup) dates, un-pitted (pitted is approx. 250 g)
  • 125 mL (½ cup) boiling water
  • 60 mL (1/4 cup) cup rum (I say 50 mL in the recipe, but really 60mL is a quarter cup)*
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 150 g (2/3 cup) sugar, I use Demerara, granulated is fine too!
  • 1 egg
  • 200 g (1-1/3 cup) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 100 g (1 cup) walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 60 g (1/4 cup) butter, melted

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 C or 350 F and grease a loaf tin with butter, or line it with a loaf liner.
  2. Begin by pitting the dates. I like to do this by splitting the date in half and removing the seed.
  3. Once all the dates are pitted, chop them up into bite-size pieces, think the size of miniature chocolate chips. Use a sharp knife, it will make a big difference!
  4. Tip the chopped dates into large bowl, and pour in the rum. The rum is optional (see notes), but it adds a subtle caramel undertone to the loaf that you won’t want to miss.
  5. Let the date soak up the rum for a few minutes, you can also do this overnight for a more pronounced flavour.
  6. Next, pour in the boiling hot water (if you're omit the rum, just use ¾ cup boiling water instead.)
  7. Also tip in a teaspoon of baking soda, and just stir everything till incorporated. The mixture will become thick will emulsify slightly. Let it cool while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
  8. Mix together the flour, baking powder and salt, then set aside.
  9. Now return to the dates, and add the sugar and the egg, mixing till well combined.
  10. Next, add the vanilla extract, followed by the nuts.
  11. Once combined, add in the flour, scraping down the sides of the bowl to make sure everything is incorporated.
  12. Finally, stir in the melted butter. The batter will be rather thick, incredibly flavourful and beautifully fragrant.
  13. Pour the bater into the prepared loaf tin, and bake for 50-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean, maybe with a few damp crumbs. If you notice the top of the loaf beginning to brown too quickly (this might happen after around 30-40 min), slide a piece of aluminium foil over the loaf tin and continue baking.
  14. Let the loaf cool for at least 10 minutes before slicing. Although this tastes wonderful warm, it actually has a more pronounced flavour the next day. I like to enjoy it with a cup of coffee, perhaps some butter on top.
  15. The loaf lasts about a week if sealed properly. You can store it in the fridge or at room temperature.
  • If you don't have rum, replace it with boiling water or coffee instead.
Very loosely adapted from Genius Recipes [6]

And that’s all, folks! 

a photograph of the date and nut loaf cake

 


URLs in this post:

[1] sticky toffee pudding: https://www.hotchocolatehits.com/2016/12/sticky-toffee-pudding.html/

[2] favourite salted caramel recipe: https://www.hotchocolatehits.com/2016/02/whisky-salted-caramel-chocolate-truffles.html/

[3] Medjool dates: https://capitaloneshopping.com/p/terrasoul-superfoods-organic-med/ZKZPRDQK2B

[4] difference between baking powder and baking soda: https://www.hotchocolatehits.com/2016/08/baking-soda-vs-baking-powder.html/

[5] Print Recipe: https://www.hotchocolatehits.com/2021/03/date-and-nut-loaf-cake.html/print/

[6] Genius Recipes: https://www.food.com/recipe/date-walnut-loaf-51281