Want to make the perfect afternoon tea cake? This Date and Walnut Cake is the answer. Made in one bowl in a few simple steps, this cake produces a tender soft sponge sweetened with dates and with the perfect walnut crunch. It's utterly delicious!
Making simple loaf cakes is one of my favourite things to create for afternoon tea. My Earl Grey Cake, Classic Yogurt Cake, and Chocolate Orange Cake are always favourite recipes in my household.
What I love about loaf cakes is that they combine an easy-to-follow recipe, simple ingredients, and minimal effort. All this creates a comforting, nostalgic loaf cake that can be made quickly and easily.
This Date and Walnut Loaf doesn't disappoint. The dates add the perfect amount of sweetness to the soft and moist sponge. The walnuts then add an incredible textural contrast with their crunchy nuttiness. It's well-balanced and definitely hard to stop and one slice!
🌟 Why You'll Love This Recipe
- Uses basic ingredients. All the ingredients are basic pantry or fridge staples. Keeping it simple is key to this recipe.
- Incredible texture and flavour. The dates are the secret ingredient to the soft texture of this sponge. Not only do they impart moisture, but they also add the most wonderful natural sweetness.
- Simple to make. This Date and Walnut Cake couldn't be any simpler to make. With no mixer required, this wonderful cake comes together in just a couple of steps.
- Perfect for any occasion. Serve straight from the oven for a traditional afternoon tea, or decorate with frosting or glaze for a picnic or dessert.
- It's a nostalgic recipe. An old-fashioned style loaf cake your Grandma would make. It's comforting in its familiarity and understandably still popular in quaint tea rooms in England.
🧾 Ingredients Needed
9 ingredients are all you need to make this date walnut cake. Talk about fabulous! I've made a couple of notes below regarding a few of the key ingredients.
- Self-raising flour - This type of flour is commonly used here in the UK, especially when it comes to tea cakes. If it's hard to come by where you live, then you can make your own with all-purpose flour and baking powder. Notes on this are in my FAQ section. You could also use whole-wheat flour.
- Dates - My favourite dates are Medjool Dates. Whichever you use, make sure to soak them as per the recipe instructions, so that they soften and aren't chewy within the date and walnut loaf.
- Light brown sugar - Add the perfect amount of moisture and molasses flavour. Substitute regular brown sugar for a more caramel flavour to the loaf.
- Eggs - 2 large eggs are needed. They should be at room temperature when whisking into the batter.
There are a couple of ways that I like to change up the flavour of this Date Cake Recipe.
- Add coffee: Instead of soaking the dates in boiling water, add a tablespoon of espresso powder to the water too. Once baked, the loaf cake will have a beautiful coffee flavour throughout.
- Switch up the nuts: Add almonds, pecans, or hazelnuts into and onto of the cake rather than walnuts.
- Add more dried fruit: Add in sultanas, raisins, dried cherries, apricots, or prunes for a fruitier rendition.
- Add spices: A very easy way to bump up the flavour is to include a teaspoon of ground cinnamon, ginger, or mixed spice. Especially for winter baking, these spices will add the perfect.
- Top with cream cheese frosting: Elevate your loaf with a crown of cream cheese frosting. The tangy cream cheese works really well with the sweetness of the dates.
👩🏻🍳 How to Make
I'm sharing process steps and images below, you'll soon see just how simple it is to make this Date and Walnut Cake Recipe. It does take a little time to soak the dates. But you can be measuring out the other ingredients whilst they soak to save some time.
*Be sure to see the recipe card below for the full ingredients list & instructions!*
STEP 1. Prepare the pan. Grease the base and sides of a 2lb loaf pan. Line with parchment paper leaving an inch or so of the paper to overhang the sides to form a sling later on. It makes it way easier to lift the loaf cake out once baked (Image 1). Preheat the oven to 180/350F.
STEP 2. Soak the dates. Add the dates, butter, boiling water, and bicarbonate of soda to a large mixing bowl and stir together. Set aside for 15 minutes (Image 2).
TIP: The bicarbonate of soda helps soften and break down the dates even more. This helps them disperse through the batter and prevents them from sinking during baking.
STEP 3. Whisk in the sugar and eggs. Add the sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract, into the date mixture and whisk until thoroughly combined (Images 3 & 4).
STEP 4. Add in the flour and walnuts. Sift the flour, add the salt, and half the walnuts (chopped finely). Fold these ingredients with a rubber spatula or large spoon into the mixture. Try not to overwork the batter (Images 5 & 6).
STEP 5. Bake. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and level with an offset spatula. Add the remaining walnuts on top (Image 7).
Bake for 50 to 60 minutes until golden brown and a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Rotate the pan halfway through and tent it with aluminium foil if the walnuts or sponge are browning too quickly (Image 8).
TIP: If you aren't a fan of dates dotted throughout the loaf, then after the dates have softened, then blend the mixture until it's pureed. Carry on with the recipe by whisking in the eggs and sugar.
🥣 How To Serve
I'm quite partial to serving this Date Walnut Cake with a large knob of salted butter and a drizzle of honey. That's just me. It is equally as delicious served as is for the perfect afternoon tea alongside your favourite cup of tea.
💭 Recipe Pro Tips
- Check the expiry date of the walnuts. Out of date walnuts are pretty rancid to taste. Check before adding them!
- Soak the dates. This is the best way to get the perfect texture from the date. Otherwise, especially when using dried dates, they can tend to be quite chewy.
- Measure out the flour using digital scales for accuracy. Too much flour will create a tougher texture.
📋 Recipe FAQs
Yes, I highly recommend this. Depending on the variety that you use, they can be quite dry and will end up very chew in the loaf. Soaking them softens them so that during the baking process they bake into the sponge creating subtle pockets of sweetness.
If you don't have self-raising flour, then substitute with plain all-purpose flour and extra baking powder. For this standard-size recipe I’ve provided today, add 2 teaspoons of baking powder to 200g (1.5 cups) plain flour and stir together. Continue as per the recipe instructions.
This could be because you didn't add in the correct amount of boiling water or that you over-measure the flour if using cups. It's more accurate to use digital scales. Too much flour will lead to a dry cake.
❄️ Storage and Freezer Instructions
To store: Store the Walnut and Dates Cake at room temperature in an airtight container for up to five days.
To freeze: Freeze the loaf whole or cut it into slices in a freezer-safe container for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
🧁 More Cake Recipes
If you tried this Date and Walnut Cake, or any other recipe on my website, please please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how you go in the 📝 comments below. I love hearing from you!
Date and Walnut Cake Recipe
- 170 g dates, pitted, chopped finely
- 115 g unsalted butter, melted
- 120 ml boiling water
- 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- 135 g light brown sugar
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 200 g self raising flour, See notes to make your own
- 1 teaspoon fine salt
- 100 g walnuts
- Prepare. Grease the base and sides of a 2lb loaf pan. Line with parchment paper letting the sides overhang the pan to form a sling. This helps lift the bread out later on.
- Soak the dates. Add the dates, butter, bicarbonate of soda and boiling water into a large mixing bowl and stir together. Set aside for 15 minutes. Pre-heat the oven to 180℃/350℉.
- Add in sugar and eggs. Add in the eggs, sugar and vanilla extract and whisk together well.
- Add in dry ingredients. Sift into the mixing bowl the flour and salt. Chop half of the walnuts finely and add them in Using a rubber spatula, fold through the flour until a few streaks remain. Take care not to over-mix.
- Bake. Pour batter into the prepared pan and level off with an offset spatula. Add the remaining walnuts in halves, quarters or chopped over the top of the batter. Bake in preheated oven for 50-60 minutes until the loaf is golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Tent with aluminium foil if the walnuts or loaf is browning too quickly (Check progress after 40 minutes.)Once baked, cool in the pan for ten minutes then lift out onto a wire rack to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature.
All recipes are developed and tested in Metric grams. I strongly recommend that you bake using digital scales for a more accurate result. I have provided a conversion to US customary in the recipe but please note that I haven’t tested using this method.
I’ve just made this loaf and I can confirm it is truly delicious and really easy to make. Thank you so much for sharing all of your fabulous recipes!
Hi Pauline- Thank you SO much for such a fantastic review of my Date Loaf. You are right - it's the easiest method! So happy that you love it 🙂