Indulge in this guilt free, super soft and crumbly Sugar-free Date & Walnut Cake. You’ll keep going back for more!
What’s better than cozying up with a warm cup of coffee and a slice or two of buttery, sweet Date & Walnut Cake on a chilly fall afternoon? While we don’t really have fall where I live, nothing can stop me from settling down for a quiet moment with coffee, cake and a book. It’s my favourite thing to do, barring the fiance’s cuddles, showering the kitty with kisses and belly rubs, and interesting conversations with my mum (also had over tea and coffee!).
But in the past week, the fiance and I came to an agreement – we would only give in to the sweet tooth over the weekend. For people who eat dessert – even if just a smidgen – after every meal (guilty as charged!), to give it up for five whole days is a very big deal. 😀
But I’m a sneak, and so I worked around the no-refined-sugar rule. 😛 Because to me, home feels more like home when there’s a baked goodie to indulge in whenever one needs an extra helping of comfort!
And so I got into the kitchen and got baking. The product of my cheekiness and baked-treat addiction is this Sugar-free Date & Walnut Cake. I’m talking zero sugar; a cake 100 per cent sweetened by dates!
This recipe makes one large loaf. Here’s what you need:
- Unsalted Butter – 1/4 cup (50 ml), melted
- Greek Yogurt – 1/2 cup (130 ml)
- Eggs – 2, large
- Vanilla Extract – 1 tsp
- Whole Wheat Flour – 1 & 3/4 cups (240 g)
- Baking Soda – 1 tsp
- Salt – 1/4 tsp
- Cinnamon Powder – 1 tsp
- Walnuts – 100 g, roughly chopped
- Dates – 270 g (weighed after deseeding), chopped
- Milk – 1/4 cup +1/8 cup (85 ml), lukewarm
Here’s how you make this scrumptious Sugar-free Date & Walnut Cake:
- Prep the Dates: Preheat the oven to 170 ºC / 340 ºF. In a small bowl, measure out 170 g of chopped dates. Pour in the lukewarm milk and let soak for 10-15 minutes. Set the remaining chopped dates aside. Once the soaked dates are soft and mushy, place them and the milk they were soaked in, in the tiny jar of a mixer/grinder/food processor and blend until the date paste is smooth.
- Make the cake batter: Pour the melted butter, Greek yogurt, eggs, vanilla extract and date paste in a large bowl and mix well. Sift in the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Mix until the flour is well incorporated. Add in the chopped walnuts and the remaining chopped dates and mix through.
- Bake the Sugar free Date & Walnut Cake: Empty the cake batter into a loaf tin lined with parchment paper. Place the cake in the preheated oven and bake for 45-50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
- Serve: Let the cake cool for about 20-25 minutes before slicing it, or leave it to cool completely. The cake is best served warm with a light smear of butter.
The first time I tasted a Date & Walnut Cake was at a high school classmate’s home. Her mother had made these soft, pillowy date and walnut muffins that had this classic air about them. Like they were not in the least bit experimental, but every bit just what date and walnut muffins were intended to be. Oozing with the earthiness of dates, the sweetness cut through with the nutty bitterness of walnuts.
It was so many years ago, but I remember that flavour like it’s lingering at the back of my tongue. That’s what I love about good cooking; it has the power to transport you back to a place and time so different from the present.
So here I am, all these years and several store-bought slices of Date & Walnut Cake later, happy with a recipe I can call my own. A healthier recipe. A guilt-free recipe.
As far as I can remember, the consumption of sugar has always been low in our home. And so, store-bought goodies, or the cakes and pastries in bakery windows were always far too sweet for our liking. Naturally, throughout my adventures with baking, it has been my endeavour to keep all desserts at a level of sweetness that is pleasurable and comfortable to the very last bite; without becoming sickly and cloying halfway through the experience.
While on any other day, that would mean using honey or maple syrup as sweeteners, like I did in this Healthier Banana Bread recipe, on this particular no-sugar-allowed-day, it meant soaking dates in warm milk and blending it into a paste to use as a sweetener. I learned two things from this step. First, milk with dates soaked in it tastes beyond delicious! You can genuinely use this as an alternative to adding sugar to coffee. Second, the lush paste lends the cake a delicate, soft, melt-in-the-mouth crumb that is to die for!
The recipe calls for whole wheat flour, so we’re steering clear of white carbs here, people. Just like the doctor ordered. And the use of Greek yogurt brings in all those healthy probiotics that help keep your gut feeling great.
But what really takes the cake is the Date & Walnut combination. Those flavours dance the most beautiful waltz you’ve ever watched. Sweet, plump dates, chewy texture in tow, perfectly offset by the crunch and bitterness of the walnuts; that’s what you call a match made in heaven!
If you’ve got family and friends who observe a strict low-sugar diet, be sure to bake them a loaf of this sublime Sugar-free Date & Walnut Cake. And don’t forget to treat yourself to one too, it’s guilt-free indulgence after all!
Tip: If you live in a hot climate like we experience in the Middle East, you can only leave this cake out at room temperature overnight. Pop the cake into the fridge the next day. This cake is best served slightly warm; makes it all the more soft, moist and intensifies the flavours!
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