Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Another treasured recipe ~ Date Cake

The gorgeous background is from Free Pretty Things for You
For today I am sharing another family recipe.  This is another of those recipes that was traditional in my family when I was growing up, but I have never tried making it: Grammie Wallace's Date Cake. 

In case you can't read it, here's what it says:

1 cup sugar 
1/2 cup butter
2 cups flour
1 cup sour milk
1 teaspoon [baking] soda
1 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch nutmeg and salt
1/2 pound dates, cut fine  
Bake in loaf.

Back in the early 1900s or late 1800s (because I really have no idea how old this recipe is), dates and other dried fruits were very festive and often included in holiday treats.  This recipe was one that my great-grandmother had passed on to my grandmother, who was born in 1901.  It could very well have been a recipe from my great-grandmother's family, who were Scottish through and through, emigrating right from Scotland to Vermont. 

For years my grandmother or my mother made this cake as part of our Christmas (and, if I remember right, Thanksgiving) dinners, but not a lot of people ate it.  They always frosted it with a thick white frosting and put a row of walnut halves down the center of the loaf, so it looked quite festive.  To me, as a child, it paled in comparison with the other desserts like pies and candy or even ice cream.  I was completely unconscious of its historical value.

Now, I wish I knew more about it.  I was fortunate to inherit my Great-great Aunt Maude's handwritten cookbook, so I do have the recipe.  Maybe this Christmas I will see if I can adapt it to gluten free so I can taste it, just for old times' sake.


  1. That is a beautiful recipe page you have there with the picture! Not everybody at our house likes dates cakes unfortunately... it is pretty sweet, but I do like a piece once in awhile.

  2. Wow, Mrs. T! I love how you did the picture and the recipe, and getting to see your grandmother in her kitchen with the handwritten recipe, and the history behind it! How awesome to have such an old recipe! Thank you for showing this to us!! I'm going to show my girls! I love this post!

  3. Ladies, I am so glad you enjoyed this post! I am almost embarrassed to admit how easy the picture was to do. I had the background which I had downloaded some time ago from Free Pretty Things for You. I would have liked to use a Christmas background but didn't want to take time to hunt for one. So I just pasted it into a drawing document, dragged the previously scanned photo and recipe into position, added a bit of text and it was done. Ridiculously easy, but I am so pleased with how it turned out and I am thrilled that you ladies enjoyed it also.

    Luludou, we are not much for date cake here either, but I am going to try making this just for old times' sake.

    Mrs. Smith, this has convinced me that I need to get that old handwritten cookbook out and scan all of the recipes in it. It is very fragile (just recipes copied into a cheap softcover notebook) and I know it won't be around forever. I'm going to scan it while I still can.

    Thanks so much to both of you for stopping by my Christmas kitchen and leaving such sweet and thoughtful comments!

  4. Mrs. T, I hope you don't mind me asking, but when you get it scanned, could I talk you into sharing another old recipe with us? I love all of you and would treasure having a handed down recipe from your family! (Sadly, we don't eat dates either, but in light of this recipe I sure wish we did!)

  5. Mrs. Smith,

    I would be happy to share another old recipe with you! I did get the cookbook out of the drawer where it had been stored, today, but haven't even opened it yet. It's been years since I looked at it, and so I can't even guess what might be in it for recipes. It will be a surprise!

    Not sure how quickly I will get the recipe scanned!

  6. No hurry, Mrs. T. :) I'll look forward to it! Thanks a million! Have a great weekend!

  7. You are most welcome, Mrs. Smith, and I'm glad there is no hurry. I glanced at the last couple of pages this morning (the book was upside down in its plastic bag and I don't want to handle it any more than necessary prior to scanning it) and they are both for homemade mincemeat -- the type which actually includes meat! -- so I know it can only get better from there.

    You have a wonderful weekend as well!

  8. Hello Mrs. T,
    Your recipe sounds marvelous! Loved the photo too.
    I make two fruit cakes every year; my mother's Sultana and my paternal grandmother's Dark Fruit cake. I'm not sure how old the dark recipe is as it could have very well been passed down from my grandmother's mother or aunt or someone. But it is made with dates and is a delectable cake. So good in fact that it can be heated up and served with a warm sauce over it as a pudding.
    Thank you for sharing and joining me for my Christmas in July Tea Party.


  9. Mm-mmm, your cakes both sound so good, Sandi! I love family heritage recipes. The recipe for the cake you served at the Christmas in July tea party sounded fantastic, too. Thanks for inviting us all to your party!

    And thanks for stopping by my Christmas kitchen for a little visit, too!

    God bless,
    Mrs. T


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