This incredible Date and Candied Walnut Cake is a Mediterranean dream! Topped with crunchy sweet walnuts and hazelnuts, this loaf is super moist and soft with a golden edge..and it is so beautiful to serve. Oh and did I mention? It’s dairy free and made all in one bowl!!!
My adopted Moroccan grandmother,Esther, makes this cake every year for Rosh Hashanah(the Jewish New Year), and when we lived by her, she would always bring us a rectangle loaf housed in an aluminum pan. I was sure this was her version of the famous holiday honey cake, and I liked it.
Try out Apple Streusel Challah for the holiday too!
When I asked about the recipe, I was so surprised to find out it is not a honey cake at all, but in fact a date cake!!!
I haven’t had Esthers date cake for a couple years now, and when I came across the recipe in my recipe folder, I started getting excited. REALLY EXCITED (old friend, where have you been?!)
I’m going to be honest, this cake is SO MUCH BETTER than I even remember!!!! I added hazelnuts to the topping along with walnuts and baked it up in an oval pan, perfect for the New Year.
It slides out like a dream, and with a sky-high topping of candied nuts and syrup, its literally the perfect thing to serve to guests. Or eat yourself. No judgment.
Soft Middle Eastern Date Cake
You won’t believe how soft and moist the inside of this cake is….and just how easy to make!
We use a half container of date paste. This usually comes in a little plastic container or vacuum sealed plastic package in the super. HOWEVER, if you can’t find any you can easily make your own(which is what I did).
Homemade Date Paste
To make your own date paste, you’ll need one packed cup of medjool dates. These are the biggest, softest, and sweetest date variety. Make sure they look plump when you choose a box! You can use the leftovers to make Lotus Stuffed Date Candies.
- Peel each date in half and remove the seed and the top hard crown bit. Check each and every date for bugs(this is really important!).
- Pack into a cup measuring cup until full. Pour dates into a bowl and cover with boiling water.
- Let sit for 10 minutes to soften the dates
- Add the dates to a food processor with about a tablespoon of the soaking liquid. Blend until smooth. If its hard to blend add another tablespoon of water and continue scraping down the sides of the processor. I had to scrape like five times.
- There can still be some small chunks!
- Done! Ready to use in your recipe!
The dates don’t impart such a strong flavour but they are really sweet, which means we get to use a lot less sugar than a typical cake, and the date paste gives a beautiful caramel taste and deep rich color to our loaf.
Dairy Free Loaf/ Date Cake with Oil
This date loaf is completely dairy free and made with canola oil. You don’t need any butter or butter substitutes to get that rich delicious flavor! We use cinnamon and vanilla to flavor the cake, and 2 eggs to add moisture- you’re date cake will be going strong on Day 3!! It really doesn’t get dry guys…
TIP: You can use your favorite vegetable oil or coconut oil in place of canola.
Candied Walnut and Hazelnut Topping
For the cherry on top- a crunchy sweet nut topping! This is so simple it’s a joke- You’ll bake the cake for 10 minutes and then pull it out of the oven and pour over a mixture of chopped walnuts and hazelnuts. Then, drizzle over 3 tablespoons of pancake syrup and place back in the oven.
Yes I said it! Pancake syrup.
You can use Israeli brand pancake syrup which is super cheap, or Bosc maple flavored pancake syrup, or even go for real maple syrup(I’ve never personally tried this). Its like the best hack.
The nuts won’t stick to the cake!
I had this thought but its not a problem! You want to let the cake bake a little first so the top can set, otherwise the nuts will sink, and thus not be crunchy. 10 Minutes is the perfect amount of time for the cake to do its job and the syrup acts as a glue to make sure all the nuts stay in place after you remove the cake from its tin.
How to Make Sure the Cake Removes from Pan
Okay this is really important because its the whole aesthetic of the cake. Follow instructions.
- I am using a 10″ oval non stick baking pan. Its heaven. Use also to shape beautiful Half Hour Honey Challah.
- Place oval pan on a baking sheet and trace the bottom with a pen.
- Cut out the shape you traced and fit the parchment into the bottom of the loaf tin. It will be a perfect fit.
- Spray the whole inside of the pan with spray oil. I use PAM. Please get some of this stuff its the best!
- While the cake is still warm, place a parchment sheet on top of it(the top is sticky and you don’t want to lose any nuts), flip it over so you’re holding it upside down, and gently slide off the pan. Turn right side up and….Ready to Serve!
Store the date cake in an airtight container at room temperature/in a cool place in the pantry. Freeze by placing in a ziplock bag and add in a paper towel to collect moisture. Defrost and place under the broiler for a minute to re-crunch up the nuts.
If you try this Date and Candied Walnut Cake please leave a star review/ any tips you have or just let us all know how it came out for you! Thank you and..happy cooking!
The Best Date and (candied) Walnut Cake
- 10" oval or rectangle baking pan, nonstick
- parchment paper
- PAM nonstick cooking spray
- 2 cup sifted flour
- 3 tsp baking powder (one 10 gram package)
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 cup date paste
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup oil
- 1 cup boiling water
- 1/4 cup walnuts
- 1/4 cup hazelnuts
- 3 1/2 TBSP pancake syrup
- Preheat oven to 350º F / 180º celsius
- Place your baking tin on a parchment sheet and trace the bottom with a pen. Cut out the shape and fit the paper into the tin on the bottom. Spray the whole inside with spray oil.
- In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, add flour, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon. Whisk to combine . Make a well in the center and add in the date paste, eggs, sugar, and oil. Mix well until fully combined.
- Add in one cup of boiling water and slowly, to prevent sloshing, mix until the water is incorporated.
- Pour into sprayed tin. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven.Sprinkle over chopped walnuts and hazelnuts and drizzle over the pancake syrup.Return to the oven to bake for another 25-30 minutes, until the centre no longer jiggles. (mine takes 25 minutes). to test stick a toothpick in the centre and it should come out clean of cake batter(minus the syrup).
- While still warm, place a parchment sheet on top of the cake and flip it over. Gently slide off the baking tin, re-right the cake.Slice and serve!Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.