Date and Walnut Bundt Cake Recipe

by - Sunday, December 23, 2018

It's during the holiday season that many of us recall most fondly the traditions formed by those who have passed from our lives. My paternal nannan, Joan, would spend days baking and creating gifts for family members from her kitchen.

I remember the crumbly pastry of her tarts and mince pies, the jam roly-poly she would serve hot with custard, and how her house always smelled of sweetness and spice when she knew her grandchildren were on their way.

Most of all, when the nights draw cold, I recall the comforting taste and texture of her date and walnut loaf. Rich and moist with just a little crunch, it paired wonderfully with a small glass of her homemade Irish Cream liqueur (which as Dad still attests, was far superior to anything you can buy in a store).

A few days ago, Dad and I were reminiscing about Nannan Joan and how busy she would be in the weeks leading up to ChristmasDay. Though we were unable to find any written details of her recipes (for she knew all of the details by heart and measured by eye), I felt compelled to try and recreate a date and walnut cake in her honour.

For this recipe, I wanted to try and create the cake using a decorative bundt tin, as the finished cake is firm and heavy enough to hold the shape well. If you don't have a bundt tin to hand, you could recreate this recipe in a small loaf tin instead, being careful to check periodically after the first hour if the cake has already cooked.


  • 150g of stoned, dried dates, chopped
  • 25 g unsalted butter
  • Just under 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 200 ml boiling water
  • 100 g (5 oz) light muscovado sugar
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 220 g plain flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1tsp ground mixed spice
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 100g of walnuts, finely chopped
  • Optional: A little icing sugar, to decorate


  1. Place the dates in a bowl with the bicarbonate of soda and the butter. Pour over the boiling water and stir until all of the butter has melted (this should take only a minute or two). The water will begin to turn a rich brown colour. Set the mixture aside to cool, and to allow the dried dates to plump up.
  2. Preheat your oven to 180ºC (350ºF, Gas Mark 4).
  3. Grease a 7 inch deep bundt tin by using either cooking oil spray, or oil applied with a folded piece of kitchen roll. Be sure to get inside all of the grooves and pay particular attention to the base (which will become the "top" of the cake when finished). 
  4. In a large bowl, beat the sugar and eggs together until they are combined. Next, add the cooled date mixture and stir well.
  5. Sift in the flour, baking powder, mixed spice, cinnamon and salt, while folding the mixture gently. 
  6. Finally, add the chopped walnuts and ensure all ingredients are thoroughly combined. 
  7. Pour the mixture into your prepared tin and ensure the top is level. You're likely to need a flexible spatula to fully extract this sticky mixture from your bowl.
  8. Bake for approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until the cake has risen and browned nicely on top. Be sure that a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean. When using bundt tins, I've found that the area closes to the "inner ring" takes longer to cook than the edges, so be sure to check here even if a skewer inserted in the centre of the ring comes out clean. 
  9. When using a bundt tin, it's really important to ensure the cake has cooled sufficiently before attempting to turn it out. This is because the cake will contract slightly once cooled, allowing you to turn it out more easily. When turning it out onto a wire rack, use the back of a wooden spoon to tap the base. If needed, a slightly greased flat knife slipped around the lip of the pan should loosen it more. 
  10. Optional: use a sieve to dust the top of the cake and enhance the pattern formed by the tin.

Prep time:

Cook time:

Total time:

Yield: 10

Once cooled, serve in slices just under an inch thick. It's also delicious lightly toasted with a spread of butter. This cake is moist and rich, and can be frozen or kept in a sealed container for around 5 days.

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we did. Please feel free to tell us your own experiences in the comments section below. 

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