Mrs Gaffney’s date and nut cake


  • 3/4 cups milk (185 ml)
  • 200g pitted dates, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 225g butter
  • 1 cup white granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 100g walnuts, roughly chopped


Sharing recipes is one way to feel connected with friends and family in distant places. Mrs Gaffney was from Tamworth, in the northern tablelands of NSW, and her cake was recorded in a Meroogal handwritten recipe ledger. The recipe may not sound terribly exciting, but it makes a particularly good cake.

Serves 10


Heat the milk in a large saucepan over low heat until it is just bubbling, not boiling. Remove the pan from the heat and add the dates and the bicarbonate of soda. Set aside for 1 hour to allow the dates to soak up the milk and soften.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180ºC (160ºC fan-forced). Position the oven rack in the centre of the oven or one rung lower. Grease a large loaf tin or 20-cm square cake tin and line with baking paper.

Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl, add a pinch of salt and set aside.

Cream the butter and the sugar in a large bowl until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating each one in well before adding the next. Add the dates and any remaining milk, and stir in the sifted flour mixture and the walnuts.

Spoon the cake batter into the prepared tin and bake for 1–1 1/4 hours or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Make sure the top of the cake doesn't burn. If it is browning too quickly, cover it with two sheets of baking paper.

This recipe appeared in the post 'At home' on July 09, 2015.

This recipe appeared in the post A search for Mrs Gaffney, c 1890s, Tamworth. on July 13, 2017.

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