Date, Apricot, and Walnut Loaf Cake

September 28, 2014
6 Ratings
Photo by Alpha Smoot
  • Serves 10
Author Notes

Lightly adapted from Diana Henry's A Change of Appetite. (I've decreased the sugar slightly, made the half-whole wheat, half-white flour mixture all whole wheat, and added salt.) It's lovely immediately after it cools and equally lovely -- more complex, more dense -- a couple of days later. —Nicholas Day

What You'll Need
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup dates, chopped and pitted
  • 2/3 cup dried apricots, chopped
  • 1/3 cup apple juice or cider
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 3/4 cups whole-wheat flour (or white whole-wheat)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 pinch ground allspice
  • 1 generous grating of nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons hulled pumpkin seeds (pepitas), plus extra for the top
  • 2 tablespoons sunflower seeds
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds (optional)
  1. Melt the butter and leave it to cool. Put the dates and apricots in a saucepan with the apple juice or cider and add 3 to 4 tablespoons of water. Bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. The dates and apricots will cook down into almost a purée. Let it cool too.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Butter a standard-size loaf pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.
  3. Add the cooled butter to the date-apricot purée along with the sugar, orange zest, and egg. In another bowl, mix the flour with the baking powder, salt, allspice, nutmeg, walnuts, and pumpkin and sunflower seeds. Then add the wet mixture to the dry, stirring until the dough is combined but not overworked. Scrape the mixture into the loaf pan and sprinkle with the extra pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds.
  4. Bake for approximately 75 minutes, or until a toothpick or a sharp knife in the middle comes out clean. Let the loaf rest for 10 minutes and then turn it out onto a rack and remove the paper from the bottom. Let cool.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Andrew Smith
    Andrew Smith
  • krikri
  • Jess
  • Melanie
  • Manhattan Tart
    Manhattan Tart
I'm the author of a book on the science and history of infancy, Baby Meets World. My website is; I tweet over at @nicksday. And if you need any good playdoh recipes, just ask.

12 Reviews

Andrew S. January 16, 2023
Like numerous others, the cooking time was way off for me. I checked it at 58 minutes, and the edges were already burnt.

It was also very dry; I may add some yogurt next time.
Nancy M. April 3, 2021
This turned out to be delicious but very odd. It is heavy and dry, like an edible brick. I would like to make it again, and I wonder where I went wrong. I used 1 cup AP flour and 3/4 cup spelt. Everything else was just like the recipe specified. I wonder if I cooked my fruit down too far so I didn't have enough moisture. Does anyone have an idea how much puree they ended up with? Someone suggested oil instead of butter so I might try that. I would welcome any other thoughts.
krikri April 7, 2019
I love this recipe. I am baking it for the second time right now. But does anyone know why you would butter AND line a pan? I don't get what a layer of butter between the pan and the paper does - there is no chance the paper will stick! Am I being obtuse?
Lori O. August 17, 2017
This has become my favorite quick bread/loaf cake recipe, I've made several times. I generally hate to make too many changes then rate a recipe but made some tweaks based on the comments already made. I add a tsp. of cinnamon and a tsp. of vanilla in place of the orange zest. I don't usually add the pumpkin seeds either. I've used various combinations of whole wheat and all-purpose flour and always turns out good. Seems to be a pretty forgiving recipe - something about the apricot/date puree really makes it.
Bernadette January 1, 2016
Delicious! I took note of previous comments and tweaked this recipe. Cooking time was about 60 mins. It was a big hit with the family, and I will definitely make it again
Jess October 24, 2015
I really adored this cake. Since the pan size wasn't specified, I baked it in a 9x5 loaf pan for 55 minutes; an 8x4 pan would have been better for loaf shape, and I'll use that next time. I'm so glad the other commenters mentioned variations, because I went ahead and played with the ingredients a little bit, following some of their suggestions. I actually made the apricot and date "jam" in advance, and reheated it with a few more splashes of apple cider (probably using close to 3/4 apple cider all told). I also used 1 c. AP flour and 3/4 cup whole wheat, and used 3/4 c. walnuts and skipped the seeds (though I think I will reserve 1/4 c. of the nuts to sprinkle on top for next time). The spices and orange zest make this a perfect fall/winter bread -- I may try mini-loaves as part of christmas gifts.
Melanie March 31, 2015
I just LOVE this recipe! I've made it about four times now, and every time, it is just delightful with my morning tea. Here are some of the modifications I've tried, to good effect. Once, when I was low on dates, I threw in some dried mission figs. Another time, I put prunes in the mix. I always add a full teaspoon of cinnamon, and 1/2 t. of clove. I omit nutmeg. I substitute the brown sugar with coconut palm sugar, and lessen it to about 1/3 c. I also use whole wheat pastry flour. Once time I used regular whole wheat and the loaf was just too heavy and dense. Other times I've used half whole wheat and half white flour. For this latest bake today, I used 6 T. of butter, and 6 T. of coconut oil. I've made quite a few quick breakfast loaves over the years, and this has become my favorite. It is very forgiving to all of my creativity and still tastes amazing. Thank you very much for posting.
Manhattan T. February 9, 2015
Made this yesterday with my daughter and we love it! Because we're inextricably drawn to recipe modification we gave it a go here, and with lovely results. We heavy'd up on the (spiced) cider, using no water and about 2/3 C. total, used 1 C. A/P & 3/4 C. WW, skipped the additional seeds and used about 3/4 C. walnuts and subbed out vanilla for the orange zest. Because I've found that butter lends flavor and oil brings moisture, we used all vegetable oil instead of butter -- there were plenty of other flavors at work here, the butter wasn't missed. It baked, in a silicone pan, in about 60 minutes. It was delicious warm and would be fabulous toasted and served with a bit of Cambazola on an appetizer platter. We'll happily make this again (and again, and again) as it is, in fact, exactly what the After School (or before school, or after dinner, or midday peckish) world needs.
Laurie May 2, 2015
how did you calculate the amount of oil? or did you just substitute 1:1?
Manhattan T. May 18, 2015
I substitute 1:1 with fine results every time (and we make this a lot now)!
Manhattan T. July 15, 2018
Didn't have apple juice so just used water (1/2 c. + 1 Tbs) and pureed the apricots & dates in the Cuisinart to a fine mince. Added 1/4 C. millet and stuck with 3/4 c. whole wheat and 1 c. white flour. Baked in a silicone pan for only 40 min. (?).
ams8180 January 27, 2015
This was absolutely delicious! I only needed to cook it about an hour tho. I would definitely make it again