For a long time she baked them in a tube pan. One recipe would make one cake. She later discovered that each recipe would make two small loaves, and that cut her date cake baking in half.
Before she had a blender, she cut up the dates with scissors that were dipped into water so that the dates wouldn't stick to the blades. I think she used the same pair of scissors she used for sewing. In fact, it's the only pair of scissors that I remember in our house. Later on, the blender made date cake baking a much faster process.
Sometimes my job was to break up the pecans. Pecans always were broken by hand and never chopped in the blender.
I have carried on the date cake tradition, and each year I give one to some of my friends. For years, however, I have been making my date cakes in the food processor.
The recipe calls for 8 ounces of chopped dates. You can't use the ones that come already chopped because they are too dry. Mother always bought Dromedary dates, which came in 8 ounce packages. I haven't been able to find Dromedary dates in Birmingham. Sunsweet dates are packaged in 10 ounce containers. Sometimes I just throw in the whole 10 ounces, and sometimes I try to guess at 8 ounces. If I am going to be baking a whole bunch of date cakes, I can get five recipes out of four packages of dates.
I chop the dates in the food processor and then transfer them to another container to soak in the boiling water. Mother, of course, boiled the water on the stove. I nuke it in the microwave.
While the dates are soaking, I blend the margarine, egg and sugar in the food processor until the margarine is smooth. I have been tempted from time to time to use an entire stick of margarine instead of 7 tablespoons, but I never have. Sometimes I use the leftover margarine to grease the pans, and sometimes I just add it to the butter dish in the refrigerator.
After the margarine mixture is smooth, I add the flour and date mixture. Finally I add the flavoring (Mother always used rum flavoring) and a handful or two of pecans. No need to chop the pecans ahead of time since the food processor will do that for you.
Here's the recipe if you want to try it. You can use Mother's method or mine or make up one of your own. It's good served warm with whipped cream or spread with cream cheese. I also like to eat it for breakfast. Spread a little butter or margarine on it and toast it lightly. Yummmmm.
1 (8-oz.) pkg. whole dates, chopped
1 tsp. baking soda
1 c. boiling water
1 c. sugar
7 T. margarine
1 1/2 c. flour
3/4 c. chopped pecans
1 tsp. rum flavoring
Mix dates, soda and water and set aside. Cream sugar, egg and margarine. Add to this the date mixture alternately with flour. Stir in pecans and flavoring. Pour mixture into two 7 1/2 x 4-inch loaf pans that have been greased and floured. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes. Note: If you want to use a tube pan, you will need to extend the baking time to 1 hour.