Adventures in Good Cooking Continues – Date & Nut Cakes

     Rather than number the pages, Duncan Hines numbered the recipes in his original 1939 edition of Adventures in Good Eating and The Art of Carving in the Home. Date and Nut Cakes, recipe #555 came from Ireland’s Rustic Lodge in Gold Beach, Oregon. It is but one of a vast collection of recipes from America’s best restaurants of the times, and it also contains a few recipes from family, friends and, even Duncan himself.
     In the preface of the 2002 edition of Adventures in Good Eating, Louis Hatchett (who also wrote The Man Behind the Cake Mix, a biography about Duncan Hines) reports, “When I interviewed people who owned a copy  . . . they were reluctant to part with it. The copies I had a chance to peruse were markedly worn and had been used extensively. The people I interviewed, all in their 70s and 80s, swore by the book’s recipes. They swooned over its wonders, proclaiming it provided some of the most heavenly mouthfuls that had ever graced the human tongue.”
   I thought these little cakes would be a nice addition to my sampling table when I do my literary program on Duncan Hines. However, rather than make cupcake sized cakes, I used mini muffin tins – even when I cut the recipe in half, it made 40 mini cakes (I used one heaping tablespoon of batter per muffin tin) and baked them for just 15 minutes. My recipe additions are contained in parenthesis.

I let the dates set in the water while
I assembled the rest of the
ingredients (above).
Below --  the addition of baking
soda (and butter) causes the
mixture to foam & turn white
Date and Nut Cakes    Makes 20 cakes
I (8 oz.) package of dates, cut fine
2 cups boiling water
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon (baking) soda
2 eggs—beaten
2 cups (granulated) sugar
3 cups (all-purpose) flour
1 cup walnuts—broken
1 teaspoon vanilla

1.     Pour water over dates.
2.     Add butter and soda to dates.
3.     Blend eggs, sugar and flour; add to above mixture. Stir well.
4.     Fold walnuts and vanilla into mixture and pour into greased muffin tins.
5.     Bake in (preheated) 350° oven for 30 minutes. (Since I had several 
      pans in the oven, I rotated them half way through the baking period. And, since I used mini muffin tins, I baked the cakes for just 15 minutes.)

Other recipes, from Adventures in Good Eating and The Art of Carving in the Home, that are included on our blog:
 * Betty Cass' Brown Sugar Cookies

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