Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Ooey Gooey Toffee Date Pudding Cake

            There is something stupendous about a date. Some people might consider them nature's candy... I am one of those people. Chewy, soft and plays well with others, I can not denounce the date in any way. I particularly love enjoying them in desserts. The way they somewhat melt under heat, blends them the batter, creating a delicious oozing sweetness throughout your bite. This cake is reminiscent of the old school date nut loaf. However, this is so much more. The toffee topping bubbles up to form a sweet, soft, crannied dome, then delves into the crevices, and surrounds the cake with warm gooey-ness. This combination creates a pudding and cake-like substance that melds into just what you want to be putting into your bowl and topping with freshly whipped cream at the end of a night! 
Don't you want to look this happy on a Monday evening?
Adapted from The Fannie Farmer Baking Book by Marion Cunningham

Oven Temperture: 375 F
Equipment: one 8x8 square baking dish
Date Mixture:
1 1/2 Cups Chopped Dates
4 TBPS (1/2 Stick) Unsalted Butter
2 3/4 Cups Boiling Water

Cake Mixture:
1 1/2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
3/4 TSP Baking Soda*
1/4 TSP Baking Powder*
1/2 TSP Salt
1/4 C Brown Sugar
1 C Walnuts, in halves or chopped

Toffee Topping
3/4 C Brown Sugar
Reserved Date/Butter Water (1 1/4 Cups)

*This is for high-altitude. At sea level use 1 TSP Baking Soda and 1/2 TSP Baking Powder.
**The nature of this recipe is slightly messy. I strongly encourage you to measure everything out and be ready to go when you start preparing the dish. 
1. Tear the dates in half, and chop them into small pieces. You want to pack them into the cup when you measure it out. 
2. Chop the butter into 4-5 pieces so it can melt easily under the hot water. Add the dates and the butter to a mixing bowl.           
3. Bring the water to a boil, and then pour it over the dates and butter. Stir. 
4. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  (Sifter with ingredients is pictured under "Equipment;" located on the far right of photo.)
5. Mix in the 1/4 C brown sugar.

6. Add and mix in one egg. It will still look fairly dry at this point.
7. Pour the Date mixture through a strainer and add the dates to the flour mixture. 
Flour, Water and Dates being mixed. This will form a loose and wet batter.
8. Measure out 1 1/2 Cups of the liquid and add it to the flour mixture. Beat the mixture well (A hand mixer is not needed. I did this by hand.)
-----A key part of this step is making sure your water is not still extremely hot or you risk scrambling the eggs. Make sure it has cooled off, or to speed up the process, place the bowl of hot water into a large bowl filled with ice water.
9. Add and mix in walnuts pieces. 

10. Pour the cake batter into a prepared 8x8 baking dish. I used aluminum foil pushed into the bottom and up the sides. This helps with easy clean up and prevents it from bubbling over during cooking. Make sure to grease the foil.
11. Sprinkle the top of the cake with 3/4 C brown sugar.
12. Pour the remaining 1 1/4 c water over the cake. It will be very liquidy.
13. Carefully place the cake on the center rack of the oven and bake for 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
Good Golly Toffee Topping!
Serving: This is called the ooey gooey cake for a reason. Scoop it straight from the pan into your bowl. Serve warm and top with some fresh whipped cream. A stupendous date dish indeed!

 For the funky baker, adventurous home cook, or American food history nerd: This is an AMAZING resource. Its old school and out of print now, but you can find some copies on Amazon. Or, if you are a local, Boulder Bookstore-being awesome like they are- will find it for you and do their best to get it your price range! They are great. As is this book. I highly recommend adding it to your collection.  

Hope you're all having a great week so far!


  1. Oooh! That looks delish! Dates are so very sweet, do you think its possible to substitute in other dried fruit? Keep up the awesome recipes!

    1. Hi FlatCat!

      I have not tried with any others, but I have some thoughts that could probably help if you wanted to sub something else in! The most important part is how easily the date break down. So think about dried fruits whose insides really mush in you fingers if you squeeze them. The first substitution that comes to mind is prunes.

      Another option, would be pick a dried fruit you want-say apricots, cherries, ect. Make sure no matter what fruit you use, be it as small as a raisin, you still chop it to expose the soft insides. Prepare the dried fruit mixture a bit earlier to let it break down in the water for a longer time (maybe 1-2 hours). Then, if the fruit is still not very mushy, strain it. The add that fruit and the 1 1/2 C water for the cake part to a food processer and pulse a few times in order to aid in the breaking down process. Keep in mind, if you do something like cherries this could significantly up the tartness of the cake. You may need to counter balance with a tad more sugar. Taste the batter as you go along for some quality control if you do these thing to adjust it to your liking!

      Best of luck. Please post back if you try any new versions (or this version) with your results! I'de love to hear them.