Prepare the cake in the evening then bake in the morning for a fresh-from-the-oven treat!
3/4cupchopped dried dates*about 8 medjool or 12 deglet noir dates
3/4cup packed brown sugar
2tsp.ground cinnamon, divided use
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.