Sunday, January 11, 2009

Date Nut Cake - My Christmas Tradition

One of the good things about having your own blog is that you can decide what goes into it. I like to use it as sort of a giant notepad sometimes.

This time I'm going to part with a closely guarded secret recipe for my momma's Date Nut Cake. She always made one or more at Christmas time and it's my favorite holiday cake. It brings back only good memories for me.

I learned how to make the cake like my momma used to by trial and error and this is the delicious result:

1 package dates, I like them already chopped
1 cup raisins, you probably don't have to add this if you don't like them, but then don't complain to me if the cake doesn't taste like mine!
1 c brown sugar
1/2 c Crisco (I'm Southern so it's GOT to be Crisco shortening)
2 c flour
2 eggs
1 c pecans (Again don't add them if you don't want to, but it's not going to be like mine!)
1 tsp soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon (For some reason you HAVE TO have this ingredient)

I think it's better to use a stand mixer, but if you don't have one, I guess you can beat the livin' poop out of it by hand.

First you put the dates and the raisins in a bowl and sprinkle the tsp of soda over them and then add 2 cups of boiling water. Let this mixture cool before continuing.

Preheat over to 350 degrees
Grease and flour a 13x9 pan or if you want it to be like my momma's, use a large Pyrex oblong

In a small bowl, mix together flour, salt and cinnamon
In a large bowl beat sugar and shortening until well blended, adding eggs one at a time. Start adding flour mixture by large spoonfuls and equal amounts of the date mixture until both are combined and mixed well. Add the nuts and blend in. I like to use coarsely chopped pecans, as one of the comfort part of this recipe is the way pecans taste when they are cooked! I reckon you could use walnuts too, but, again, being Southern it's pecans for me always.

Pour into the pan and bake until done. If you need a hint, it's approximately 45-50 minutes in the metal pan or 40-45 in the Pyrex. It's important that you cook it until it's really, really well done or it's kinda strange in the middle....not bad, just not normal. The one I made before Christmas was not done quite enough even though I'd poked a toothpick in the middle and it came out clean. I should of let it cook a few more minutes. You're the best judge of how long though because you know your own oven and such.

If you want to get fancy you could cool that puppy down and put some powdered sugar on it or do something with whipped cream, etc. Me, I like to cut it into nice size pieces and store it in an air tight container. After a day or so you'll most likely want to keep it in the refrigerator just in case as it's not loaded with preservatives like store bought stuff!

I've got one cooking in the oven even as I type and I'm so looking forward to enjoying it one more time before my Christmas kitchen is officially closed for the season!

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