Wednesday, 9 November 2022

Middle Eastern Spiced Date, Walnut and Chocolate Loaf

Date and Walnut Loaf is quite a classic loaf cake to bake, and I've given this a subtle Middle Eastern flavour by adding Baharat spice powder instead of Mixed Spice, and I've also added a dessertspoon of cocoa to bring an added depth of flavour and colour to the loaf. It's not too sweet for my tastes and has a nutty and earthy flavour from the walnuts. Walnuts are a nice soft nut to bake with, but they must be fresh. When I invited our neighbour over for morning coffee during the week, this was the perfect cake to serve with an Espresso coffee. In a casual situation of chatting at home over a cup of coffee, nothing fancy or complicated is called for. I think a neighbour needs to feel welcome but not overwhelmed by something that is too sweet or fussy. Some friends say they don't even want anything to eat, just a coffee, however morning tea always seems to disappear once it's on the table.

Golden syrup, walnuts, baharat or mixed spice and dates are staples in my pantry cupboard, and as such this Loaf Cake can be baked very quickly when required. It only takes 30-35 minutes to cook, rises beautifully in the tin and has never failed me. A couple of weeks ago I made it in the middle of our Bee saga, which I wrote about in a previous post, and I left out the butter.  I'd put butter in the microwave to soften slightly, and then completely forgot about it due to a few Bee distractions as Mr. HRK was working with the hive. Anyway, miraculously the loaf was still very edible and Mr. HRK couldn't get enough of it. I've made it a second time with all of the ingredients added, and it turned out perfectly. C'est la vie.

This cake is a cinch to make and only requires two bowls and a mixing spoon.

Cook's Notes:

  • Select a loaf tin 22 cm by 13 cm. Mine is a favourite old tin with those measurements, but a couple of centimetres either way doesn't matter. A ring tin will work as well first
  • If you have the time, this could be taken to the next level by roasting the walnuts first
  • If you like a lighter coloured loaf, leave out the cocoa powder, add a few more walnuts and you will capture the more earthy and nutty flavour of the walnuts and dates. I like recipes with options, don't you? The original recipe of mine didn't use cocoa powder, but I love the added flavour it brings
  • I've promoted this as being a Middle Eastern style loaf because of the Baharat, Date and Walnuts, however it will still be delicious using just traditional Mixed Spice easily purchased at the supermarket
  • This loaf is best served warm out of the oven, however it can be baked a day or two in advance for when you need it, stored in a covered container, and it retains it's freshness beautifully. In fact, I think it actually improves in flavour, if that is at all possible
  • Store your walnuts in the freezer, to keep them fresh. They have a tendency to turn a little rancid if stored in normal temperatures
Ready for the oven, and two ways with walnuts for a little rustic decoration.

First attempt, ready for the oven, but minus the butter, oops.

I used a loaf tin 22cm by 13 cm.
Easily serves 8.

1 cup chopped dates
1/2 cup brown sugar or raw sugar
1/2 cup chopped walnuts 
1 teaspoon Bicarbonate soda
1/2 teaspoon Salt
2 cups S.R. Flour
1 cup boiling water
1 tablespoon Golden Syrup
1 egg
60 g softened butter (or 2 tablespoons)
2 level teaspoons of Baharat spice or Mixed Spice
1 dessertspoon Cocoa for a darker cake 


Preheat your oven to a moderate temperature, 180 deg. C, Fan Forced. Bake for 30 minutes. Check that the middle is cooked by inserting a skewer. If it comes out clean, it's done.
Grease your loaf tin and line with baking paper. It might need 35 minutes depending on your oven.

  • Put chopped dates, sugar, bicarbonate of soda, salt, golden syrup, butter, and walnuts in a mixing bowl.
  • Add boiling water and mix well. Allow to cool for a few minutes.
  • Meanwhile sift the S.R flour with the baharat and cocoa into a 2nd bowl to distribute evenly through the flour.
  • Then add the beaten egg to the prepared batter mix, followed by the sifted flour, baharat and cocoa.
  • Cook in a moderate oven in a greased and lined loaf or ring tin for 30 minutes

Simply serve with a dusting of icing sugar or it's quite traditional in North Queensland to eat a simple Date and Walnut loaf with a spread of butter with "smoko" which is delicious. Some folk still call morning tea "smoko" (no smoking involved.) Serve a small bowl of butter with your loaf and you'll be surprised how many people will spread their slice with butter. That's how Mr. HRK likes to eat his.

Thanks for dropping by,

Warmest wishes,


(An original recipe by Pauline @ Happy Retirees Kitchen c 2022.)


  1. Dates, walnuts and warming spices...this quick bread sounds and looks heavenly!

  2. I have saved the recipe to Pinterest for a day when I might feel motivated to bake. Thanks Pauline. Chel

    1. Thanks Chel, hope you enjoy it. Nice to hear from you.

  3. i like these sorts of loaves pauline. They always work and taste good - esp. with butter. A great idea to add a bit of cocoa. I make a fruit loaf that has a kilo of dried fruit and two cups of coffee, and another with cocoa. So good!

    1. I like the sound of the one with dried fruit and coffee.Sounds delicious.

  4. I'm thrilled to find this recipe. Love eating dates and walnut and also using it in desserts.The cake looks irresistible and I can’t wait to try baking it.

  5. I saw this in your monthly round-up post, and I knew I wanted to stop by and take a closer look! I'm not familiar with Baharat spice powder, so I need to go look that up. This does sound like a fantastic cake to serve with an espresso or a strong mug of coffee. I could go for a slice right now in fact!

    1. Thanks David, if you aren't used to Baharat try half and half mixed spice and Baharat, either way it's delicious.Goes great with coffee.

  6. Dates are just coming into the market here - this would be a great way to celebrate them, Pauline!

  7. David oh to have seasonal dates. they would be amazing in this. Thanks so much for your comment


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