I’ll keep this short and sweet since many of us are busy with friends and family in the midst of the holidays, but I just wanted to wish you a wonderful holiday season and thank you all for reading. I have a nice little layer cake to share today, full of honey and diced dates instead of granulated sugar. The honey adds a rich sweetness to the dish and the diced dates add a wonderful texture and a fun polka-dot-look to the cake slices. Now, I know dates look kind of funky, but those of you who have not tried them shouldn’t be intimidated by their ‘intersting’ appearance. While they may look wrinkly and oblong, they are soft and chewy and wonderfully sweet. I like to call them nature’s caramels, and whenever I’m craving candy I always dip into these guys because I get a little fiber that way, too. And when diced up into the cake batter they add a rich, almost nutty, sweetness to the dessert. And even more awesomely, it’s fairly easy to throw together, especially since it calls for a glaze so all you have to do is drizzle it over the cake rather than taking the time to carefully frost the entire thing. Hurray!
Note: The garnish on top of the cake is not edible, they’re seasonal sprigs of winterberry, douglas fir, and pine (I got them in a bouquet from Trader Joe’s). If you decide to garnish with them or something similar, you should remove them immediately before slicing the cake.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. To make the cake, mix together the flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, and tarragon in a large bowl until blended. Set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, blend together the butter, oil, eggs, and honey at medium speed. Add the yogurt, rum, and vanilla and mix until blended. Gradually add the flour mixture to the bowl, mixing at low speed until just incorporated, taking care not to over mix. Stir in the chopped dates and pour the batter into 3 well-greased and lightly floured 8-inch baking pans. Place in the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes or until set. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes before removing the cake from the pans and placing on a wire rack to cool completely.