Fruitcake. Dark, moist, dense, boozy, studded with colorful 'funny fruit', inevitably the brunt of re-gifting…
Sweeten your Mother’s Day breakfast or brunch with this simple coffeecake you can prepare in the evening then bake in the morning. Chopped dates, brown sugar, walnuts and spices are layered in a buttermilk batter that chills patiently in the pan overnight. In the morning let it stand at room temperature while preheating the oven and allow about 10 extra minutes to bake. This sweet-spiced cake is just the type of coffeecake my mom used to bake. I can still hear her call it a shtr-oi-zuhl kuchen with the German pronunciation, not str-U-sel, as Americans pronounce.
This cake is made with buttermilk which I like for the richness it adds without extra fat. Despite the name, there is no butter in it. Buttermilk used to be the liquid remaining after cream is churned into butter. Now buttermilk is made with nonfat or low-fat pasteurized milk with added lactic acid bacteria, the same healthful bacteria as in yogurt. Buttermilk makes a soft moist crumb in cakes and pancakes, plus gives a little tang. In the recipe notes I’ve shared tips on buttermilk replacements such as adding cream of tartar to the flour, or vinegar to milk. The cream of tartar option was new to me, so I tried it out. It’s a good substitute in a pinch, and a nice use for rarely used cream of tartar, though I still prefer buttermilk for the finer crumb and best leavening. You can always use leftover buttermilk for my Buttermilk Panna Cotta!
Breakfast Date Cake
- 3/4 cup chopped dried dates* about 8 medjool or 12 deglet noir dates
- 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 3/4 cup chopped walnuts
- 2 tsp. ground cinnamon, divided use
- 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup butter, salted
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup buttermilk*
- PREHEAT oven to 350 F. Coat a 9×9-inch baking pan (glass or metal) with butter or cooking spray.
- COMBINE dates, brown sugar, walnuts, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and nutmeg in a small bowl. Set aside.
- In a separate bowl, COMBINE flour, remaining 1 teaspoon cinnamon, the baking soda and salt. Set aside.
- BEAT sugar and butter in a large bowl with electric mixer until fluffy. Add eggs and beat until light and creamy, about 3 minutes. ADD flour mixture alternately with buttermilk, mixing on low speed just until batter is blended.
- SPREAD one half of the batter in prepared pan. Top with one half of the date mixture. Spread remaining batter over dates and sprinkle remaining date mixture evenly on top. Bake immediately or cover and refrigerate overnight.
- BAKE for 40 to 45 minutes or until deep golden brown and pick inserted in center comes out clean. (If refrigerated, bake uncovered 45 to 55 minutes.) Cool 15 minutes. Serve warm or room temperature.
- *To chop whole pitted dates, wet a sharp knife with water and re-wet as needed to prevent dates from sticking.
- **Buttermilk substitute: add 2-1/4 teaspoons cream of tartar to flour mixture and use 1 cup lowfat or whole milk OR add 1 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice to 1 cup milk and let stand a few minutes to curdle.
- Note that recipes with buttermilk almost always have some baking soda which neutralizes some of the acid in buttermilk and adds to the leavening.