“No one who cooks, cooks alone. Even at her most solitary, a cook in the kitchen is surrounded by generations of cooks past, the advice and menus of cooks present, the wisdom of cookbook writers.”
~ Laurie Colwin
Our farm is a social place. The pace of life is slower here, and people have time for a chat and a cuppa. It’s also a place where lots of physical work gets done, and I like to have a cake tin or biscuit barrel full so that I have something tasty to offer any visitors or workers with their cup of tea.
This beautiful moist date loaf recipe is handwritten in pencil on the inside cover of an old cookbook I found in an op-shop in Gin Gin when I was still a college student. I wrote the recipe, given to me from memory by an elderly lady named Marge who was busy making cakes and sandwiches with me and a group of other women one long hot summer so we could feed the rural fire-fighting crews during a terrible bush-fire year. Marge wrote written the words ‘economical’ and ‘quick’ in blue pen at the top of the page because these are very important things for a young girl to know, apparently.
It is indeed both of those things – and delicious too – made from simple ingredients most of us have in our pantry. This date loaf packs well for travelling or school lunches and will keep fresh in a sealed tin for up to a week. It also freezes well so I usually double the mixture, cook two and freeze one for emergencies.
I’ve sometimes served it as a simple warm dessert with a sploodge of cream or ice-cream. The date loaf is also very good served sliced and buttered. When it’s fresh it doesn’t really need the butter, but gee, it’s so good why wouldn’t you?
4 Weet-Bix, 1 cup of chopped dates, 1 cup sugar, 4 tablespoons of butter (60 grams), 1 teaspoon bicarb soda, 1 egg, 1 cup of self raising flour (self-rising for my USA friends or 1 cup of all purpose flour, 1 and 1/2 x teaspoons baking powder and a pinch of salt, sifted together), 1 cup of boiling water.
Variations of this recipe used by my CWA ladies:
- 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts or pecans
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger or ground cinnamon
- swap out the sugar for 3 heaped tablespoons of golden syrup or treacle
Note – Weet-Bix are a popular wheat biscuit breakfast cereal in Australia. On other shores they are known as Weetabix.
Preheat your oven to moderate (160 degree celcius fan-forced or 180 degree oven – 350 degrees fahrenheit).
Line a loaf tin (23cm x 12cm – 9 inch x 5 inch) with baking paper.
Crumble the Weet-Bix into a large bowl. Add the sugar (or syrup if using instead), chopped dates, butter and bicarb soda. Pour the cup of boiling water over and leave to soften for five minutes.
Add the sifted flour (and spices if using) and egg. Mix together well with a wooden spoon. The batter will be quite thick. If you are adding walnuts or pecans dump them in now and give another quick stir.
Pour into the lined tin and place in the oven for forty-five minutes. Test to see if cooked through by inserting fine skewer in center of cake. If it comes out clean it is done, if there is still sticky residue bake a little longer.
Leave in tin ten minutes before removing and cooling on a wire rack. It slices best using a serrated knife.
25 thoughts on “Easy Date Loaf Recipe”
Hello ,😁just love the sound of this recipe ,will try it today ,I have the grandkids for school holidays and they have a mixture of cereals ,as you can imagine one likes this and one likes that ,So I have been left with a big box of wheetbix ( which I don’t eat ) Problem solved to you I say Thanks .
Happy cooking ,first time blooger ,is that what you call it haha
I have made this recipe a number of times for different reasons and it is a winner with everyone who tries it! Thank you 😊
Thanks Nicole. This is just the recipe for the Tea Shop I bake for. Can’t wait to try it. Your other cakes look pretty amazing too. All the best to you and family.
Thank you. I hope you enjoy it. You bake for a tea shop? That’s like something out of a storybook fantasy of mine! 😊
I’m a first timer on the baking scene. My date loaf has scored 10/10. Cudos today you, thank you so much, busy baking one at the moment.
Hi, I came across your recipe after searching the net for a different dale loaf recipe to what I usually make.
This was so quick and simple no boiling and cooling, however I do have one question, How do you get it to last in a sealed container for a week? Mine doesn’t last a day, maybe two if I’m lucky! Do you have a chain and padlock on your tin. Three boys and a hubby I double the recipe and still don’t make it to the weekend. Have even resorted to making two and hiding behind the frozen vegies, 🙂 great recipe
WOW!!!! This is a seriously good cake. In fact, the best and most moist date cake I’ve ever made. Not overly sweet either. Just right! thank you so much for fabulously delicious recipes.
Absolutely loved this receipe, it was really moist, so easy to make. My husband loved it & so I’m off to bake another one today!!! Mary from Brisbane 20/9/14
cannot wait to try this date recipe. years ago a friend used to make a date slice was so moist but never got the recipe off her sure hope this one is as good. from gay 29th july 2013.
I hope you enjoy this one, Gay. Easy and a firm favourite in our household. It’s a regular staple in the cake tin here. Much love, Nicole xx
Hello, I am not sure I can buy Weetabix in Canada? Is there something that I can substitute?
Hi Debbie! Gee, I’m not sure. Here’s a link to the Australian Weetbix site. If you have a look at the pictures it might help you find something in Canada, or maybe one of our other readers will know. It’s effectively breakfast biscuits made of lightly compressed wheat flakes. https://www.weetbix.com.au/product/
Hi, just wondering about the substitution available? Will try to send replies to my email forgot it before.
We have shredded wheat biscuits but not sure they are the same thing, will have to check it out, thank you
Debbie, it’s worth a try. Let us know how you go! xx
Weetabix is so good for baking into loaves, I like the look of your recipe and will be trying it some time soon, thank you.
This is Just what I’d envisioned baking (and eating) today! Thank you for sharing this lovely recipe. I can’t wait to try it. Now I’ve only got to find some Weetabix…..
I never baked with Weetabix before–just BRILLIANT! Thanks! 🙂
When I saw the blog post topic…the biggest smile on my dial…I love you Nicole Cody…XX
I’m testing my ‘scone’ skills for an upcoming event..mineral water really does work as a substitute for lemonade..the ladies at the local CWA might think I should be handing back my membership card at this rate…but I will buy some weet-bix today for sure…big hugs…XX
Yeah, I’ve used lemonade too. And ginger beer is also quite delish. Have made another batch of date loaf since Sunday and it’s all gone already!!!
Weet-Bix also also great binders for rissoles and meat loaf, or as a crunchy topping on pies and bakes. (God, I can’t believe I am pitching Weet-Bix…)
That should have said ‘I have used mineral water’… Am finding it hard to concentrate because Harry and Bert are begging me to let them go outside!
Love ginger beer…will give that a whirl as well. Just want to ask another bit of advice..have just bought 6 of those tiny rectangular cake tins..how long do you think a tin of that size would take to cook..and could I put the whole 6 in the oven at once? I have a very standard no-fan forced electric oven!
Give those gorgeous lads a bit pat from me….XX
Gee, it would be like baking cupcakes a bit I guess. I’d definitely try and fit them all in the oven at once. Maybe even on making trays to make it easier to handle them. I’d try 10 to fifteen minutes to start. Keep an eye on them and test after they look well raised and browned. You’ll need to tailor it to your oven. 🙂
Pups are well patted and are now running round in the windy sunshiny paddocks!