Mediterranean Date Cake

Couscous and anise extract give this cake Middle Eastern flair.

by Dani Yokhna
Mediterranean Date Cake
Photo by Stephanie Staton



  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups pitted, coarsely chopped dried dates
  • 1/4 cup salted butter
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1½ tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup uncooked couscous
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 eggs


  • 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 6 tsp. milk
  • 1/2 tsp. anise extract


Place oven rack in middle position. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In saucepan over medium-high heat, bring water, dates, butter and baking soda to a boil. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. (Reduce heat slightly if splattering occurs.) Transfer mixture to a bowl and refrigerate until chilled.

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Sift together flour, baking powder and nutmeg. Stir in couscous, walnuts and lemon zest, making sure walnuts are completely coated with flour mixture.

In large mixing bowl, beat eggs and sugar until mixture is pale-colored, tripled in volume and falls from the beaters in a ribbon (about 10 minutes).

Using rubber spatula, fold dry ingredients into egg mixture. Then, fold in date mixture.

Pour batter into a buttered, floured, parchment-lined 9½-inch springform pan. Bake 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool completely on a rack before icing.

Whisk together sugar, milk and anise extract until smooth. Spread icing on top of cake, allowing it to run down sides.

Serves 10.

Recipe courtesy Shannon Sylvia, Modesto, Calif.

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