Fruit cakes or brandy soaked Christmas cakes are not appreciated much here in my house. I remember office Christmas parties where everyone would go berserk over Christmas cake. It would be polished off in minutes with everyone hankering for that last slice while I just could not bring myself to enjoy it. I would keep nibbling at a small slice just to look polite and in the festive spirit. Most Christmas cakes, that I remembering having, used to be intensely sweet for my taste with an over load mass of candied fruits, raisins, dried cranberries, figs, apricots sand what not! Same is the story with my mister and my daughter. A decade ago, in one of those over enthusiastic moments, I agreed to be a part of the Christmas fête and fair organised by our housing society. I put up a stall of my baked goodies and apart from the Banana Cake, Caramel Cake & a few other assorted muffins, I baked this dates and walnut cake. I was initially doubtful about what kind of response I would get. And to my utter surprise and joy, everyone loved the cake and it literally sold off like hot cakes! The word spread about the cake and people flocked to the stall wanting to have the ‘Christmas Cake’ leaving me wondering if they had indeed come to the right stall 😛 Yes, that is how they christened my dates and walnut cake. Most of them thought it was Christmas cake and although it has no brandy, no dried fruits or loads of nuts. Anyways, I was happy that the cake was lapped up everyone from kids to grown ups and for weeks, I kept received requests for this cake and oblige I did. It was a fun experience and at that point of time, the thought did strike me to begin taking orders for cakes and start a home run baking business but with a full time corporate job it did not happen.
Coming back to the cake, I think of it as a close cousin of the Christmas cake. Difference being, it is not intensely sweet. The dates give a nice fruity sweetness which is not over powering and the kinnow zest gives a citrusy flavor which pairs perfectly with the dates and walnuts. It is a winner in my book and I hope you enjoy it as much as everyone else did! 🙂
250 grams seedless Dates, chopped
½ C Kinnow juice
1½ C Maida (Flour)
½ tsp Baking Powder
½ tsp Baking Soda (bicarb of soda)
½ C Oil
½ C + 2 tbsp Dark Brown Sugar
Zest of 1 large Kinnow
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
100 grams Walnuts
Chop the dates and soak them in kinnow juice for 3 – 4 hours.
Prepare the baking tin by greasing it with oil and dusting it with flour. Tap out the excess flour. Set aside.
Preheat the oven at 170 degree C.
Sift together the maida, baking powder and baking soda.
In a bowl, whisk the sugar and oil for 2 – 3 minutes. Add the vanilla essence and whisk in the eggs, one at a time. Ensure that the eggs are fully incorporated with each addition.
Fold in half the flour mixture, zest and half the dates (along with the juice).
Fold in the remaining half along with the date mixture alternately. Add chopped walnuts.
Pour in the greased baking pan and bake in the oven for 45 minutes to hour or till firm to touch.
Note: Feel free to add more dates if you like your cake sweeter. But this amount of sugar and dates were perfect for our taste. Note: Kinnow can be swapped with oranges. Note: Feel free to add spices (such as cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, all spice) if you wish to add warm Christmasy flavors Note: Add a few table spoons of milk, if the batter is too thick.