Date Honey Nut Cake

A few weeks ago, when I received a batch of organic dates from a kibbutz in Israel, I found myself wondering what to do with them. These sweet, luscious dates on the vine were perfect for snacking, but how else could I get creative with them? Date nut cake was an obvious choice, but I wanted to do something a little different. With Rosh Hashanah coming up, my mind wandered to honey cake. The thought of sweetening date nut cake with honey seemed like it would be totally delish.

Voila! The Date Honey Nut Cake was born. This tasty loaf cake is a unique take on a traditional Rosh Hashanah honey cake. Dates are actually a symbolic food for Rosh Hashanah, so it’s a great choice for the holiday. In Hebrew, a date is called a “tamar,” which is related to the word “tam” (meaning “to end”) and the word “sheyitamu” (meaning “to be consumed”). Dates are eaten in the hopes that our enemies will be consumed. They also happen to be naturally sweet, which is another good reason to eat them for Rosh Hashanah (as we hope for a sweet new year). And here’s another fun fact– biblical scholars believe that the honey repeatedly mentioned in the Torah likely came from dates (and other fruits), not bees. Yet another good reason to eat dates for Rosh Hashanah!

So, what better way to enjoy dates than in a sweet, delicious honey cake? The dates provide lots of moisture, which makes this a convenient make-ahead dessert—the cake will not dry out if you make it a day or two before the holiday begins. The walnuts add some nice texture and crunch. It’s naturally dairy free, but can be topped with cream cheese frosting for some extra decadence (if you’re not worried about keeping it pareve).

I hope this cake ends up on your holiday table. It will definitely be on mine. Yummy!

Recommended Products

Halawi Dates

Mixing Bowls

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Date Honey Nut Cake

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup (6 oz) whole dates
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil (I use canola)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • Nonstick cooking spray

You will also need

  • 8- or 9-inch loaf pan, 2 mixing bowls
Servings: Makes one 8- or 9-inch loaf cake
Kosher Key: Pareve
  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Place dates into a bowl and cover them with very hot water. Let the dates soak while you prepare the cake batter.
  • In a large mixing bowl, sift together cake flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together vegetable oil, brown sugar, honey, eggs, and vanilla.
  • Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir till a thick batter forms.
  • Drain water from the dates. Pit the dates, then chop the fruit into small chunks.
  • Fold the walnuts and date chunks into the batter.
  • Generously grease your loaf pan with cooking spray. Pour batter into loaf pan.
  • Place loaf pan in preheated oven. Bake cake for about 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and set on a wire rack to cool.

Comments (78)Post a Comment

  1. This date cake is definitely going on my Rosh Hashanah menu! When we were in Israel we ate a lot of date honey and brought some home with us. Divine! I need to find a source closer to home…

    Wishing you a sweet and healthy New Year!

  2. I have a tendency to shy away from regular fruit cake-too many add ins. I am picky when it comes to dried fruit, but the singular addition of dried dates is perfectly acceptable! This may become the new fruit cake for the family-thanks for sharing. It does look tasty.

  3. Tori this is fantastic. I love dates, I love honey and I love cake. So is perfect. Kudos on being creative. Love this one. I found the fact about the honey being thought to come from dates not bees really interesting. You’ve got a real winner here.

  4. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe. We were in Israel about a year ago at this time and brought back some date ‘honey’ with us. Our guide had told us the same thing about Biblical references to honey as you mentioned in your post. Anyway, I have been looking for a recipe for making date nut cake ever since I returned from my Israel trip, but couldn’t find anything that sounded good…until now! Perfect!

  5. OMG, Tori! The moistness of this cake just jumps right out of the picture. I can’t wait to make it for Rosh Hashana. I will be making the Vanilla Pudding Kugel, too I want to make really sure that this New Year is nice and sweet! Thanks for the great recipes! My best to you and your family.

  6. I made this honey cake and one from Epicurious (with a chocolate glaze and sea salt flakes). They were both delicious, but this one was the best and disappeared first.

  7. I made this cake for dessert last night and it was the most popular dessert on the table. Rave reviews from everyone! Fortunately, I doubled the recipe, so we have another for Shabbat dessert. :)

  8. Confession:I made two of these in 48 hours. First one was for Rosh Hashanah dinner and there were ZERO left overs so the following day I made another-So delicious, so easy!

  9. Yesterday I needed a dairy free cake – a friend was shocked that I had not heard of your site as a foody – iPad in bed I went on it – wow got up and out of bed into the kitchen – if I have dates and nuts here goes …. Honey and date loaf. – well I did – easy to make and delicious to eat ..I am hooked

  10. hi,your site is adorable,i love it,sidebar about nuts that might interest you,lottsa things we do on rosh hashana are smbolic like the simanim on rosh hashana eve,its brought down in the code of jewish law a interesting custom (amongst orthodox and especially chasidim)not to eat walnuts(many dont eat any nuts)because its numerical value in the hebrew alphabet equals that of sin.hebrew egoz equals chet

  11. I have tried a few of your recipes, & they are all amazing, except for one, it was a blueberry cake, but it was from a book that was on your site, not your recipe, so unless it’s your recipe I will never use it! I’m still looking for a recipe for a poundcake my grandmother used to make, I’m hoping one day you will make a cake like hers! Keep up all the great cooking & baking!!! Thanks

    1. Thanks for the vote of confidence Stacy! Do you have any details on the poundcake? Was it a simple buttery poundcake, or was it flavored?

  12. Hi,,,this recipe looks fabulous,,,,any idea if you can replace the cake flour with something Paleo friendly?

    1. Hi Elaine, I don’t generally freeze cakes, but I assume this cake will freeze fine. I can’t make any promises because I haven’t tried it myself. If you try it please let us know how it works for you!

    1. Hi Sarah– I have never subbed applesauce in this cake, so I hesitate to say yes or no. I can tell you that generally speaking, when I sub applesauce in a baked recipe, I replace no more than half of the oil. Subbing all the oil, in my experience, can result in texture changes in the finished product. If you try it, please let me know how it works for you– I’m sure others might have the same question. :)

  13. I came across this site googling something completely unrelated and have been caught here for an hour now! I am not Jewish nor is anyone in my family, but my father is Egyptian and I grew up with a lot of Israeli friends. Cooking has always been something to overcome boundaries and connect all of them, my friends and family. And it shows how similar we all are; dates for instance are one of my dad’s fondest childhood memories. Raising a family of 11 (!), my grandparents must have been so thankful for these sweet little things. Dates, available everywhere and for everyone, basically made up for any snack the children had! Will definitely try this cake sometime!

  14. Hi Tory, the texture of the cake looks yummy, feel like making it right away, just one quick question, can I use flour I.e., maida for making this cake instead of the cake flour.

    1. I’ve never baked with maida, but regular flour will work fine… the cake flour makes a more tender crumb, but it will still be great with regular all-purpose flour. Enjoy!

  15. Do you know if I used Virgin Coconut Oil for the oil, would it be the same amount? I made this using canola and it was great! I like the idea of coconut oil since it is a “healthier” fat so-to-speak but I don’t want to over do it. Thanks! Shanah Tova!

    1. Hi Amanda, not sure– I’ve never tried it with Coconut Oil, but it would probably work with the same amount (if you use it in melted form, of course). It may give the cake a slight coconut flavor, though. If you try it let us know how it worked for you! :)

  16. I love this recipe! I have made it many times, mostly for Temple related events. I use the same base, but have made some variations. One popular one was to soak the dates overnight in Grand Marnier, and use pine nuts instead of walnuts (ran out of the latter, used what was in the pantry!) Great recipe, and can’t wait to try more from this site!

  17. I made one for my neighbors next door and two loaves for my in-laws for Rosh HaShana. It was amazing. I made it again to have something after the fast. Again, truly amazing. My mother-in-law said she doesn’t like honey cake and hasn’t touched the one she bought from the store, but this one she loves. So thank you again! Your recipes are the best.
    Just FYI: I used all purpose flour (since I didn’t have cake flour) and I used coconut oil, since I don’t have vegetable oil.

  18. Lovely recipe..Stumbled upon it today when I was looking for a cake recipe with honey…Tried it…thanks to you, it turned out great!! Perfectly moist and flavourful!!

  19. Made this with grape seed oil & almonds (because that’s what I had on hand.) it turned out amazingly! Crust was burnt, maybe to hot or too long?

    1. Ovens vary in temperature slightly, yours may run a bit warmer than mine. Try taking it out a little earlier next time, and make sure you bake it in the center of the oven (where you’ll get the most even heat throughout). Bake only until the tester comes out clean, no longer. Glad you liked it!

  20. Was given some lovely dates from Saudi Arabia,
    found your recipe for date walnut and honey cake.
    Made it straight away, thought it was the best cake ever.
    Made two more the next day. Thank you so much.

  21. I have made this and LOVED it! Having some gluten free guests for Tu Beshvat and wondering if/how I could make this gluten free?

    1. Hi Ilana, you could try subbing an all-purpose gluten free flour substitute for the flour, like King Arthur. I’ve had pretty a good experience with subbing in this kind of recipe (easy cakes and quick breads), but I haven’t tried it in this particular recipe. If you try it will you let us know how it turns out?

  22. just made two more date, honey and walnut cakes,now
    going to make Bienenstich Bars, they look lovely, cant wait to try them. Make everything for patients in a clinic!!

  23. I made this once and the outside seemed a little overdone. I made it again cooking a few minutes less and the cake fell apart. I think I will try to make it with all purpose flour instead of cake flour. If anyone has an suggestions please let me know. The flavors are wonderful so I want to get this right.

    1. Hi Phyllis- that’s strange, so many readers have had a great result with this cake. I’m not sure what might be going wrong for you. You could try baking it at 300 degrees for 70-80 minutes till a toothpick comes out clean. Perhaps the cake flour you bought is creating too delicate a crumb, so as you said you might want to try all purpose. Hope your next try is successful!

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