Every time I visit family in the Philippines, I always take the opportunity to browse through my aunties' recipe notebooks to see what I can copy and recreate when I get back home to Australia. Most of their handwritten recipes are not very detailed and are more of just a listing of ingredients. The challenge always for me is to be able to sort of fill in the blanks. I try to figure everything out by myself as I really don't want to bother my auntie (the baker) with questions. She is even older than my dad at 92 years! One of my nieces who came from the US became very interested in the recipes and asked if I could send her copies. I promised I would but that I needed to test them out first to make sure everything was in order!
The first recipe I tried out was that of food for the gods. This pastry was a staple in all our family gatherings but as a kid, I never really liked them. I didn't like dates. I didn't like that it was moist and chewy. However, since I tasted sticky date pudding some years ago, that all changed. Now, I love them!
My aunties' recipe is pretty straightfoward and it is not too different from other recipes you will find online. What I noticed though is that it had only half the amount of butter than other recipes and rather than melting the butter, it is creamed with the sugar. It doesn't make it less tasty though. It is still moist, just not very wet and sticky as other food for the gods are. If that is what you prefer (like me), then this recipe might be for you!
FOOD FOR THE GODS
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon honey
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (about 150g) pitted dates, chopped
1 cup (about 110g) walnuts, chopped
Preheat oven to 170C. Grease and line an 8x8 or a 6x11 pan with baking paper.
In a small bowl, sift together the plain flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, cream together butter, brown sugar and honey until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract.
Add in the dry ingredients and beat mixture until just combined. Lastly, fold in the dates and walnuts.
Pour batter into prepared pan then level off with a spatula. Bake for about 35-40 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the four corners of the cake comes out clean. (It's ok for the centre to be a little moist just as long as the top surface is already dry and uniformly brown.) Transfer pan to a wire rack and let the cake cool completely before cutting into bars.
PS. Before I forget, thank you so much for those who voted for my cake in the Lifestyle Food Bake Challenge. Thank you even more for those who expressed their support in the comments section of my previous post and for those who emailed me personally. I appreciate it very much! And just to let you know, WE ARE IN THE TOP 10! Hope you can keep on voting for my entry till the 13th of December. After that, I'm praying Matt Moran and Maggie Beer will vote for my cake too!