Fig & Date Nut Torte

by Shumaila

Thank god V is not a weather man. If V says its not going to rain, it surely will. If he says there’s going to be a massive downpour, it is going to probably be the hottest day ever. It’s now a joke. If I want to be sure of the weather, I just ask him to look into his heart and tell me whether it will rain or not. Whatever he says, I expect the opposite.

Coming to think of it, I think he should be a weather man. He should just say opposite of what he feels and he will do great as one!

So, when he said today that its going to be a really hot day and there won’t be any rain nor any clouds, I was positive it will rain and I was right!

And when it poured, I missed the date nut torte I had last week. How I wish I had a slice of it to eat and enjoy the rain! As I had not posted a recipe last time when I mentioned it, I thought what better day to post about it. Coincidentally, its my Mom-in-law’s birthday in India today and this goes out to her as well!

Growing up my mom used to make date cake pretty often, almost at every party. Surprisingly, I hated that cake growing up (wondering why people who ate raved about it so much). But when we were staying in Moscow, I fell in love with my mom’s date cake. Something about the cold and a hot date cake to warm you up, I guess had to with this change of heart.

Now, since I did not have my mom’s recipe, I decided to use one of David Lebovitz’ from his book Ready for Dessert: My Best Recipes.

What attracted me to the recipe was the fact that it used no butter! And for a cake that has no butter, it is pretty darn good. I think I did overbake it, even though I took it out before David’s stipulated 40 minutes, in fact 3 minutes earlier than called for. I think 30-35 minutes in the oven is good for this cake. I also used pecans instead of walnuts as that’s what I had. I did use less dates than called for, since I just had a cup of dates with me and tried to make up for the reduced dates with whatever amount of figs I had. The fig of course complemented well with the dates.

Now, since it had no butter in the cake and also because I overbaked it making it a tad less moist than it should have been- I made a toffee sauce which of course had butter.

And then I crib I am not losing any weight.

The only respite I can have is that I sent all the pieces away to V’s office and took a few for my friends. Well, isn’t sharing caring? And in this case, its a great way to make sure I dont end up eating everything I bake!

Fig & Date Nut Torte

The cake has no butter and like David points out doesn’t actually need it. Just be careful not to overbake it. David just dusts the cake with powdered sugar but I have always had my date cake with toffee sauce, so I had to make some for this one too. The glazed toasted pecans on the top were the best part of the topping, giving the cake a great crunch. Perfect for a rainy day treat!

Adapted from Ready for Dessert: My Best Recipes

Makes one 8 inch square cake


  • 2 cups pitted dates, quartered ( I used considerably less as I didn’t have too may dates and instead substituted some figs for dates)
  • 1 cup walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped (I used pecans- again that’s what I had)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp aniseed, freshly ground or crushed in a mortar and pestle
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 3 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice (store bought would also do)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Powdered sugar, for dusting the cake or toffee sauce (if you don’t mind the extra calories)
  • Glazed pecans (I just caramelized some sugar and added toasted pecans to the caramelized sugar)


  1. Preheat oven 350 F. Grease and flour the bottom and sides of an 8 inch cake pan.
  2. Toss together figs, dates, pecans and 1 tbsp flour in a small bowl.
  3. In another bowl, whisk together the remaining flour, baking powder and salt. Add the aniseed powder and stir to combine.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, granulated sugar, orange juice and vanilla.
  5. Fold in the flour mix, and then the fig-date-nut mixture until just combined.
  6. Scrape batter into pan and bake until top is light golden brown and cake feels just barely firm in the center. David mentions 40 minutes but mine was a tad over baked when I took it out a little after 35 min, so keep checking.
  7. Heavily dust the warm or room temperature cake with powdered sugar, or if using toffee sauce, remove cake from pan and cool on a wire rack. Pour the toffee sauce over the warm cake. Cut slices and serve warm.