Apple Date Cake

Cardamom Apple Nut Cake

My late mother-in-law, Grace, loved to bake cakes. She didn’t like to make pies, even though she was really good at making beef pasties. She gave me two recipes for cakes, hand written on recipe cards that are now so floppy (from use) you’d think the cards were made of cloth rather than paper. My favorite of the two is her classic Apple Date Nut Cake.

With the nice, tart local apples in the market I’m inspired to dig out this old favorite cake recipe. Being a cardamom fancier, I thought I’d see what it does to the apple cake that already has sweet spices in it. The aroma of the combination of sweet spices, cardamom, and coffee makes me feel like I’m in a Scandinavian coffee shop.

Although you can use almost any kind of apple in the cake locally grown Honeycrisp or Northern Spy apples are wonderful. Of course, you can select Granny Smith, Jonathan or McIntosh. This goes for apple pie as well as apple cake.

Grace liked to bake her cake in a fancy tube-type pan and drizzle it with caramel frosting. Often, I simply bake it in a 13 x 9-inch pan and cut it into squares. Sometimes when I bake it in a rectangular pan I will double the amount of apples and the result is a moist apple pudding and instead of frosting the cake I serve squares of it with whipped cream.

Cardamom Apple Nut Cake

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup (1 stick) softened butter

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons unsweetened dark cocoa

1 teaspoon freshly ground cardamom seeds

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup cold, strong coffee

4 tart apples, peeled, cored, and chopped, about 4 cups

1 cup chopped, pitted dates

1 cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans

Caramel frosting, recipe follows (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter an 8-inch fancy tube type pan or a 13 x 9-inch baking pan.

2. In a large mixing bowl, cream the sugar and butter until smooth. Add the eggs and beat until light and fluffy.

3. Stir the cocoa, cardamom, cinnamon, and soda into the flour.

4. Add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture along with the coffee. Beat until batter is very smooth. Stir in the apples, dates, and nuts until evenly blended.

5. Turn into the greased pan. Bake 1 hour for the tube pan or 35 to 40 minutes for the 13 x 9-inch pan or until a wooden skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

6. Cool the tube cake for 5 minutes in the pan, then turn out onto a wire rack to finish cooling. Cool the rectangular cake completely in its pan on a wire rack. Ice with the caramel frosting or dust with powdered sugar.

Makes 8 to 10 servings

Caramel Frosting

1/2 cup whipping cream

1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon dark corn syrup

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

Powdered sugar, if needed

1. In a 2-quart saucepan combine the cream and sugar.

2. Over medium heat, bring to a boil and cook and stir for 2 minutes.
Add the syrup, salt, butter and vanilla and stir to combine. Mixture should be smooth.

3. If it seems too thin, sift powdered sugar and tir into the mixture until thickened. Spread or drizzle onto the cake while it is still warm.

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Beatrice Ojakangas

Food writer Beatrice Ojakangas grew up as the oldest of ten on a farm in Floodwood, Minnesota and learned to cook and bake on a woodstove. Author of 31 cookbooks, Beatrice has a degree in home economics, has been inducted into the James Beard Cookbook Hall of Fame, was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Minnesota, has written for magazines such as Bon Appetit, Gourmet, and Woman's Day, and appeared on the television shows of both Julia Child and Martha Stewart. Her specialties include baking, Finnish and Scandinavian cooking, and writing well-tested, simple recipes that use wholesome ingredients. She lives in Duluth, Minnesota.

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