Bertha's Date and Raspberry cake

December 14, 2020
2 Ratings
Photo by Rich Altmaier
  • Prep time 2 hours
  • Cook time 1 hour
  • Serves 8
Author Notes

Dates are under appreciated and people miss out on the breadth and depth of flavor! My mother-in-law, Bertha Varghese, baked a childhood favorite, Date cake. Her daughter Marie and I recover the recipe here, and I can't help myself, I add a raspberry glaze. I think Bertha would have approved! —Rich Altmaier

What You'll Need
  • For the cake
  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons addl granulated sugar for the caramelization
  • 8 oz weight unsalted butter
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 cups pitted dates
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds, or chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • For the glaze
  • 6 oz weight raspberries
  • 1 oz weight powdered sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F convection. Line a 9-inch baking pan with parchment paper
  2. Dice the dates. I cut once along the long direction, then 3-4 times cross-wise.
  3. In a small bowl, beat 1/2 the sugar and butter together until light & fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  4. In a large sauce pan, place the 3tbs of sugar and 2 tbs of water, and stir to dissolve the sugar entirely. Then heat on medium, while occasionally shaking the pan, and let the sugar get fairly dark.
  5. Lower the heat, and carefully stir in the milk, avoiding hot spatter, and stir until the caramel dissolves entirely. Note: the caramelized sugar will initially harden, but as the milk heats, it will dissolve entirely. Do not boil the milk. Remove from heat and let cool a bit, below 160F, before proceeding.
  6. Mix in all remaining sugar and stir until dissolved. Mix in the butter, and stir until dissolved. Mix in the chopped dates.
  7. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, nuts, salt, baking powder, & spice.
  8. Beat the egg and vanilla together, for about 5 minutes, and mix into the liquid.
  9. Lastly fold in the flour to the liquid.
  10. Pour into baking pan and bake for 40-50 minutes, until the center does not wobble when slightly shaking the pan, and the sides pull away a bit. Don't check before 35 minutes or it will collapse! There may still be a bit of jiggle in the cake due to the large date content!
  11. Leave to cool before applying the glaze.
  12. Adding the glaze: Place raspberries in a small sauce pan, heat on medium, and smash them a bit with a wooden spoon.
  13. Stir and continue smashing until it reaches a boil. Let it boil a minute or two. Pour through a strainer to remove the seeds and collect the juice.
  14. Rinse the sauce pan and return the juice to the sauce pan, and add the sugar. Note: this sugar contains a starch which will cause the stiffening we want!
  15. Heat gently to a boil, then stir regularly, continuing to boil. As it boils it will slightly thicken.
  16. When a spoonful can pour and show it is slightly thicker, remove from heat and immediately spoon over the cake. The mixture will solidify quickly, so don't hesitate!

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1 Review

rookiebaker June 23, 2023
Short 1 tbsp butter, thought I could make it up by using whipping cream instead of whole milk. Also short 1 cup of dates, so I added one cup of soaked golden raisins. Flavor of this cake is scrumptious; caramel, dates, and raisins combo is sweet, warm and buttery. The crumb was not as tender and moist as I thought it would be. Surprisingly dry and crumbly for all that butter and cream. It's still a delicious treat that I'd make again. Thanks for sharing the recipe!