Alternate name for this cake: The Christmas Cheat Cake. Because somehow, with a fraction of the time and ingredients, this emerged from the oven smelling like the festive spirit took a bath in the festive spirit. Maybe the rum-soaked dates had something to do with it? Or the copious amounts of fresh orange juice? It’s a mystery, but I think we should eat, rather than sit around trying to solve it.
This is a goooooood cake.
This is an Ina Garten recipe I found on Smitten Kitchen and while Deb uses orange liqueur which I didn’t have, and nutmeg which I had, but it gone bad (I had no idea that happened), it turns out both are easy to substitute. I used more orange juice and a good splash of rum, plus ground ginger for a spicier, more gingerbread-y flavour. Even with a surprisingly small amount of butter, this cake has so much richness and moisture, it blew my mind.
The dates turn into sticky, jammy, toffee-like awesomeness and whatever you do, do not reduce the amount of dates, they’re phenomenal in here. And somehow, end up tasting like bits of candied plums. Chop the dates small and use a long serrated knife (like a bread knife) to make slicing the cake easier. The juicing and chopping increases the prep time just a bit, but the actual batter is very straightforward.
Each bite is packed with a spiced-citrusy punch and the rum, while not overt, is responsible for the colour and deep flavours all over. It’s Christmas time, we need some rum cake 🙂 Make this today, pretty please!
- 280 gms pitted dates, chopped small
- 4 medium oranges
- ¼ cup dark rum
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsps baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp cinnamon powder
- 1 tsp ginger powder
- ¼ tsp clove powder
- ½ tsp salt, if using unsalted butter
- ½ cup brown sugar*
- ¼ cup butter, at room temp (55 gms)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 egg
- In a small bowl, add the chopped dates and the juice of one orange. Pour the rum over the dates and mix well. Cover and set aside for 30 minutes. In a separate bowl, squeeze out the juice of the remaining oranges and set aside.
- In a large bowl, sift the flour, baking powder and baking soda. Stir in the spices and salt, if using. Set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 175 C and lightly grease a 9x5 loaf tin. Line it with baking paper and leave a little overhang for easy removal. Grease the paper as well. Set aside.
- In a mixing bow, beat the butter and sugar with a hand mixer until pale, then add the egg and vanilla, beating again till combined.
- Pour in the remaining orange juice from step 1 and mix on low, then gradually add the flour, folding to combine. The baking soda and orange juice will react, causing the batter to look frothy, don't get alarmed 🙂
- Finally, pour in the soaked dates along with all of the liquid in the bowl. Mix well, then pour the batter into the prepared tin.
- Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, until a toothpick poked in the center comes out clean. If the top is getting too dark, cover the tin loosely with foil. Start checking for doneness around 45 minutes.
- Allow the cake to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then lift it out using the paper and place on a wire rack. Peel off the edges of the paper and allow the cake to cool completely before slicing with a long, serrated knife. Enjoy!
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