Family “recipes”….

I’ve mentioned before how in having this blog, many a family favorite has been shattered. Here I had visions of my mother slaving over homemade baked goods, only to find out that my mother was basically Sandra Lee(ironically, she makes everything from scratch now). Growing up at Christmas time my mom always had Date Nut Bread. I always turned my nose up at it because I was not a fan of dates as a kid. But as I grew up, so did my taste buds and I learned to love the bread…especially for a breakfast treat. So the other day I called my mom to ask her to email me her beloved Date Bread recipe…and then it happened. The silence. The silence I have grown to learn that means, oh shit, I must now admit that I used a box mix to make it silence. It was that silence again. Apparently our family treasured recipe was a box of Pillsbury Date Bread Quick Bread Mix. Ugh. Now granted she did add to it, using fresh dates and chopped nuts, but still. Yet another blow to my ego. :) So if you would like the Date Bread I grew up eating go grab yourself a box. Since I was not going to put a box cake up on my blog(not that there is anything wrong with box cake…we all know my love of Funfetti cake) I had to figure out what to make since I now had all these dates.

I turned to one of my favorite cookbooks, The Pastry Queen to see what they had done with dates. They had made a Orange Date Bundt Cake. Alright I thought, I will just start my own holiday tradition. :) This is moist and dense, like most Bundt cakes are. It is not anywhere close to the taste of my family “recipe” but it is certainly good.

Orange Date Bundt Cake

½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large egg
grated zest of 1 medium orange
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
2/3 cup buttermilk
1 chopped dates


1 cup powder sugar
½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 TBSP grated orange zest

Preheat oven to 350F.
Grease and lightly flour a 10-12 cup Bundt pan.
Using a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter  on  medium-high speed about 1 minutes, until fluffy. Add the sugar and cream on medium-high speed about 30 seconds. Add the eggs all at once and continue creaming for one minute. Add the orange zest and vanilla; beat until combined. Add about half the flour, the baking soda, and the salt; mix on medium-low speed until just combined. Add the buttermilk and mix on medium-low speed until just combined. Add the rest of the flour and mix until just combined. Gently stir in the dates.
Spoon the batter evenly into the pan. Bake for 40-45 minutes. Let cake cool in the pan about 10 minutes. Invert it onto a rack and cool at least 20 minutes before glazing. Transfer cake to a serving plate.

To make the glaze: Combine the ingredients together and whisk until it becomes a creamy orange color. Pour glaze over cake.
Serve at room temperature.

Source: Adapted from The Pastry Queen by Rebecca Rather with Alison Oresman, 2004


  1. What a pretty cake!! I must try and overcome my dislike of dates, and try this recipe!


  2. Hahaha, this post made me laugh. “The silence.” I love it. This recipe looks yummy, even if it isn’t the same as the original :).

  3. Sorry to hear the dream was shattered! Well, it looks like you made something even better out of a lack of a recipe! Too funny!

  4. Oh dear, the boxed mixes. My mother-in-law keeps buying them for me because she knows I love to bake. *sigh* Oh well…..sometimes not knowing is better, huh? LOL…..

  5. I love myself a tasty bundt cake! Box or not…and your non-box version looks like it was well worth the few extra steps.

  6. the story about your mom and your ‘family’ recipes is too funny! the combination of orange and dates sounds interesting, definitely not something i would think to put together… i may have to try this! :)

  7. I love dates, and I can even find them in southern Italy! My mom makes a mean cookie with them in too. This looks fabulous and like a great Christmas gift :)

    Also, you and your readers might be interested in a contest happening over at my blog (and the blogs of 4 others) to win a personalized, signed copy of Dolce Italiano by Gina DePalma, Executive Pastry Chef at Babbo in NYC.

    We’ll be posting recipes from the books over two weeks–3 are already up, including mine today:

    Ricotta Pound Cake

    All you have to do is comment to enter the drawing :)

  8. That’s the thing about tradition — it’s easy to start a new one at any time! I’m definitely going to dust off my Bundt pans for this one.

  9. I absolutely ADORE dates. Was just talking about baking with them for the holiday season with my dad! The idea of a light orangecake with the dates is genious! This recipe looks so good it’s ridiculous.

  10. Your story with your mom made me giggle. This looks really delicious. I will have to make it!

  11. That top picture is totally an edibility prize winner. I love dates already but you made them look crazy good.

  12. I think you are beginning a wonderful new tradition, Pea – I should be so lucky to have a slice of this beauty!

  13. oh no, not Sandra Lee!!! I’m sure that your mother was NOT as “Sandra Lee-ish” as you made her sound, haha. But hey, at least this gave you an opportunity to start your OWN, new tradition – the Orange Date Bundt Cake looks fabulous!! I love dates, but have never tried them with orange before… interesting flavor combination!! Sounds great!!

  14. LOL! My mom did not cook hardly at all but she did leave me a vintage date nut bread recipe..maybe i will post it soon. I like it with either orange curd or cream cheese..ahem..or both.
    This looks luscious though.
    And your DB challenge was GORGEOUS

  15. Poor mom, caught with the box mix. You did a great version of it though.

  16. I adore bundt cakes and this one looks divine! I wonder how it would taste if I made it with cherries?

  17. Too funny! Great story & such a lovely cake – I have lots of dates to manage as well, maybe I’ll give it a try.

  18. 99.9999% of everything I bake is from scratch, and my mom was the same. The one exception I can think of was Ye Old Bacardi Rum Cake. Every once in a while I make that, and believe it or not, someone always asks me for the recipe. Yes, the one time I resort to a yellow boxed cake mix. I’m not sure what that says about the rest of my baking!

  19. I really like the though of baking with dates! This cake looks amazing. I like the sound of the orange glaze as well. Bookmarked! (Though I will need to pick up a pan to bake this in.)

  20. The silence, haha! I’m so sorry you had to find out about these things! I know I would be traumatized to find some of my childhood favorites were from a box. ;)

  21. Excuse me, while I peel myself off of the floor from laughing so hard at your post! I am very familiar with the dreaded “silence” too. Of course, I can’t complain too much since I just used a boxed gingerbread mix for my SHF entry AND admitted it in my post!

  22. It is morning so I really fell like giving this a bite!
    Especially since cakes are not my strong point since we avoid making them … so every visit here s a joy to my eyes an a dream to my stomach!

  23. So funny! It looks like your new tradition is a keeper.

  24. Peabody, you are really messing up my diet! This cake a MUST make. I love the combo of orange and dates. I am very much into dates this season, don’t know why. Maybe it reminds me of Christmas somehow.

    Thanks for the recipe and tempting photos!


  25. peabody, what!? wow, thats amazing!

  26. Perfect and it look so moist~orange and dates, a perfect marriage….

  27. Is it bad to admit that I was a boxed cake maker until probably a year ago?? In fact, I am the only member of my family that now makes cakes from scratch instead of from boxes. But our favorite cake growing up was always the cherry chip – and I’m not sure how I could duplicate that from scratch. I’m gonna have to look into that…

    This cake sounds wonderful!

  28. I love this story! I have the same problem from time to time… and the thing is… I still love some of those old “cheater recipes”! Your cake looks wonderful. I really like date cake of all sorts (and prune cake too!).

  29. I still use a box mix to make my cornbread, but the orange date bundt cake is surely better than the boxed date nut cake…but not in your memories. I love the icing with the orange zest.

  30. Before it was a mix, it was an actual recipe:
    Pillsbury Date Nut Bread

  31. I just got The Pasrty Queen cookbook and love it! I’ll definitly give this recipe a try!

  32. I tried this recipe and it was great! <3

  33. We intially thought this was a horrible recipe because we first found it on someone else’s site and they had copied it wrong saying to put in TWO cups of butter!! They put a link to this site and after the mishap I came here and looked and saw there had been a mistake! So at some point we’re going to try it again and hope out right next time!


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