Spicy orange, walnut and date cake

date cake whole1

It’s taken me a long time to post this recipe, as I wanted it to be a sort of pre-Christmas reflection post on all the excess and wastage and how nice it is in the craziness of the pre-Christmas blergh to reflect on all that is good and simple (with this nice comforting cake!).

But no matter how many times I drafted this blog, I ended up sounding like a preachy old grinch and hit delete, delete, delete! I think it is probably because I have not bought a thing for anyone yet and the impending doom that is pre-Christmas shopping, combined with the irritating smug satisfaction from people who tell me they finished their shopping in October and ordered their food a month ago makes me go all #stabby. So enough already! 

This cake is more of a fruit loaf than a cake. It’s dense and moist with a wonderful sweetness from the orange and dates, and the walnuts add a great texture. I love the spices too – and it has BOOZE – it makes it feel like Christmas already. I really enjoy this warmed up with a dollop of mascarpone cheese – artfully plated up (note the diet-sized portions in preparation for the Christmas binge). Equally, it is delightful lightly toasted with butter.

Spicy orange, walnut and date cake

  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

Makes: 1 loaf – serves 10


  • 125 g dates, seeds removed
  • ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 200 ml boiled water
  • 185 g plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons powdered ginger
  • 65 g walnuts, roughly chopped
  • zest of one orange
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 80 ml orange juice
  • 80 ml vegetable oil (or any other plain flavoured oil)
  • 125 ml golden syrup
  • 120 g icing sugar, sifted
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon Cointreau (or other orange-flavoured liqueur – optional)


  • Line a 23 cm x 13 cm x 6.5 cm loaf tin with baking paper.
  • Preheat oven to 190°C (170°C fan forced).
  • Place the dates in a heatproof bowl, sprinkle with the bicarbonate of soda and just cover with freshly boiled water. Allow to sit for a few minutes to soften, then drain and roughly chop.
  • Sift the flour, baking powder and spices into a large bowl with the salt, then stir through the walnuts.
  • Combine the eggs, 80 ml orange juice, oil, golden syrup and orange zest in a separate bowl and gently whisk.
  • Fold the flour mixture through the wet ingredients until just combined, then pour into the prepared loaf tin.
  • Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  • Meanwhile, prepare the syrup by combining the icing sugar with two tablespoons orange juice and the Cointreau.
  • Remove the cake from the oven then prick all over the surface with a skewer.
  • Pour the syrup over the cake while it is still in the tin.
  • Allow to cool completely before removing from tin.
  • Serve with a dollop of mascarpone cheese.

date cake slice 2 date cake whole 2




3 thoughts on “Spicy orange, walnut and date cake

  1. cheergerm

    Stupid thumbs! What I meant to write was ‘preachy old grinch’, that cracked me up. What a delicious sounding wee cake and a fab way of using up my monster bag of co-op purchased dates. (Nice diet sized pieces for those of us trying to maintain the status quo before the onslaught..ha…)


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