Sunday, March 24, 2013

Aunt Maxine's Date Cake

Last summer when my mother was here to help hubs and I babysit for Reece and Emma (yes, it took all three of us), I noticed her one afternoon sitting at my kitchen table going through the recipe box she had given me a few years earlier.  I asked her what she was looking for and she said the recipe for date cake.  She found it and proceeded to write it down to take back home with her.  I remember thinking that it must be some kind of cake and made a mental note to give it a try.  Even if it did have dates.

So last week, I was partaking in my usual web browsing of some of my favorite cooking blogs and date cakes kept popping up.  I figured that was a sign, so I dug out that recipe got busy.  While the cake was in the oven, I texted my mother and asked her from whom she stole that date cake recipe!  Charlotte is a great cook but she's not out developing desert recipes in her spare time.  (She's playing pickle ball and drinking wine in The Villages.)

Left to Right:  Ruth and Maxine....rocking their tunics with leggings and boots in about 1930.  Fashionably way ahead of their time!!

Seems the recipe came from my Aunt Maxine.  Maxine is my mom's sister and the oldest of the seven kids.  She just turned 89 on March 14 and she's a total hoot.  I remember being in the kitchen at Maxine's one Thanksgiving and mom going through her recipe file looking for her pumpkin pie recipe.  When she couldn't find it she asked Maxine where she kept it and Maxine said to look in the "O's".  Mom asked why in the heck she kept it under "O"?  She said, with a totally straight face,  that pumpkins were orange.  So I can only assume that she had this date cake filed in the "B's"  

Maxine's youngest daughter, Dell and I were only a year apart so I spent a lot of time at their house riding horses and playing in the barns.  They also owned the local fertilizer company in town and I remember a lot of afternoons hanging out there and climbing all over the huge piles of fertilizer bags.  And then stinking like fertilizer.  This was Richwood, people.  In the late 60's and early 70's.  It's not like we had a local mall to frequent.

Back row:  Denny, Diane, Doug
Center Row:  Sherman and Maxine
Front Row:  Dell and Doreen
My Uncle Sherman passed when I was seven but Maxine took over the fertilizer business and ran it until she was in her 70's.  She's one tough lady with a wicked sense of humor and I admire her greatly.

All the sisters at my parent's wedding.....Emma, Kate, Ruth and Maxine

So......the cake.  I can see why Mom was looking for the recipe.  This is delicious.  Even if it does have dates!  It's incredible moist, not overly sweet and that icing.  Holy cow.  My picky friend, Chad, even ate two pieces.

Here's the recipe:

Maxine's Date Cake


2 tbsp butter, room temp
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp baking soda
2 cups boiling water
2 cups chopped dates
2 /2 cups flour
1 cup chopped walnuts

1 cup sugar
1 cup chopped dates
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup chopped walnuts


Preheat oven to 350 degrees and butter and lightly flour either a 9" square pan or a 9" spring form pan.

Put chopped dates into medium bowl along with the baking soda.  Pour boiling water over dates, stir and let cool.  Cream together the butter and sugar, add in the eggs one at a time and blend until fully incorporated.   Add the cooled date mixture to the batter and then add the flour and nuts.  Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for approximately 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.  Remove from oven and cool on a rack.

While the cake is baking, combine sugar, dates and water into medium pan.  Over medium high heat, bring to a boil until thick.   Remove from heat and add the nuts.   (I boiled mine for about 5 minutes and it never really thickened up so I took it off the heat, added the nuts and hoped for the best.  It thickened considerably as it cooled.)  Spread on cake when almost cool.

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