Six nights until Christmas Eve

There is not too many days left in the countdown. The mornings are dark and I find that an extra hour of sleep would feel nice but the children get up easily when they know that it is their turn to peek into the advent calendar. Of course the older children do not believe in Santa Claus and elves anymore and the middle kids waver in between. They would like to believe but yet at the same time they have picked up on the fact that magical creatures live in the world of storybooks. Our four almost five year-old who told me that “Elves are magical creatures” also told me once that, “they are just normal people dressed up as elves” when I said the elves might be watching. I had been quite exasperated with him that day. Take that, Mom!

advent calendarBut no hard feelings. He is also the kid that will come give me a hug or rub my shoulders if he thinks I am tired.

2013-12-17 11.17.46-2Little by little the holiday preparations are done. Some of them are done together like baking gingerbread and some are done by the elves late at night. The household is full of little mysteries and even the littlest ones wrap toys into blankets and bring me gifts. With bright shining eyes they wait for you to open their gifts of love and your exclamation of delight.

The date cake is perfect for the days of waiting. You may eat it on its own with a morning cup of coffee, or if surprise guests walk in the door, it can be easily dressed up with a dollop of equal parts of whipped cream and Greek yoghurt and a drizzle of caramel. My mother would make date cake when I was still living at home and it is a favorite. This recipe is slightly altered from the one found in the book, Hyvää Ruokahalua, kotikokin parhaat leivontaohjeet, edited by Anna-Maija Tanttu. It is the kind of recipe that needs no special equipment: a bowl, a pot, a wooden spoon and a bundt pan.

date cake

Date Cake

250 g/8.8 oz chopped and pitted dates

3 dl/1.3 c water
200 g/7 oz soft butter
2 dl/1 c sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
4 dl/1.7 c flour

Place the chopped dates and water into a medium sized saucepan or pot and allow to boil for about 4-5 minutes so that it thickens just a bit. Take off from the heat and stir in the soft butter. Add the sugar and vanilla next. Then add in the eggs mixing them in well with a wooden spoon. In a separate bowl mix the flour, baking soda and baking powder. Pour the warm date mixture into the bowl and combine with the flour. Pour into a greased and floured (I like to use wheat germ or wheat bran for the flouring) bundt pan and bake in the oven at 175 C/350 F for about 40 minutes or so that a test skewer comes clean when inserted in the middle. Allow to cool for about 15 minutes before flipping the cake over onto a plate. The flavor of the cake improves with time, if it lasts that long and freezes wonderfully.

mixing the batter

For the cream dollop, mix equal parts of whipped cream and Greek or Turkish yoghurt and sugar to taste. Drizzle with caramel sauce.

laila wuollet uljasphotograph by Noah Photography

Hoping your holiday season is a peaceful and festive one.

Christmas 2013

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37 Comments

  1. The first thought that crossed my mind when I read your title was “what… only six more days?!” I love the simplicity of this date cake. I actually don’t own a regular bundt pan (gasp) but I was planning to take one from the many that my parents have when I am home for the holidays. Quick question, why do you like to use wheat germ or wheat bran for flouring the pan? Is it added nutrients or have you found they work better keeping the cake from sticking?

  2. Your photo’s are so beautiful, especially the picture of you drizzling caramel on the cake, Christmas really did sneak up on us didn’t it? I am miserably unprepared, it sounds like you really do have it together. Dates are wonderful, and your cake sounds amazing.

    1. Thanks Suzanne! I really like that picture as well, it is taken by Noah Pylvainen from NOAH photography. I think he does a really beautiful job. Here’s the link to his blog if you’re interested in seeing some of his other work: http://www.photographybynoah.com/
      About holiday preparations I have thought that we try our best and in the end everyone is probably happy even if everything planned did not get quite done! In Finland it is traditional to clean every cupboard, nook and cranny for Christmas. As much as I love clean cupboards and since we are not spending our Christmas in the cupboards my cupboards will unfortunately not be cleaned in time for Christmas 😉

  3. I love dates and date cakes; just love them. Maybe even more than I like chocolate and I am mad about chocolate. The family participation in Christmas preparations is lovely to see and it is sweet to read about the little gifts and the little exasperations too 🙂 Christmas Blessings to you all.

    1. Yes, I share your enthusiasm for dates…they are so good! Just had the last little slice from one cake this morning with a spoonful of plain Turkish yoghurt and a cup of lemon and ginger tea. It was delicious. Hope you have a peaceful Christmas!

      1. Yum 🙂 One of the nicest things about the years we spent in Cairo was the date season; those first dates of the season were so good. Hope your Christmas is happy and joyful.

  4. Goodness how your littlest one has grown! Isn’t it wonderful to prepare a holiday dish for your children just as you Mother had done for you. I bet at least one them will do the same for your Grandchildren. 🙂

      1. Actually they take me away… I have left Stockholm (my home for over 9 years now) for the sunny side… in fact a bit to sunny here in Australia with record breaking-temps yesterday 😉 Hope you’re having a wonderful time (it certainly looks like you are!) x

  5. Beautiful photos, and beautiful looking cake! The Santas and tree in the first photo are divine, as is your advent calendar. My 9-year old has been questioning the existence of Santa too. He really wants to believe though, and happily wrote Santa a letter this year – I hope it’s not his last! Wishing you and your family a wonderful Christmas. PS. Love the idea of mixing yogurt and cream together.

    1. I think it’s lovely when they still want to believe in Santa. All of our kids write letters to Santa whether they believe in him or not. Makes the job for Mr. and Mrs. Claus just a little bit easier. 😉

  6. I love date cake and use it as a base for fruitcake each Christmas. I like how you serve yours…it sounds delicious. I hope you and your beautiful family have a wonderful Christmas.

  7. I love dates and that cake looks so yummy! I hope you had a wonderful Christmas. So glad to squeeze out some time and stop by this post from the many that I have been missing……danny

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