First of all, I can't believe I haven't posted this recipe...it's the easiest cake to make, and perfect to take to a picnic, have on hand for company, or make for the family. My MIL shared this recipe with me early in our marriage, and I've made it many times since. Apparently, this cake is very popular back in her home state of Wisconsin.
I think "Picnic Cake" is a rather funny name for this particular dessert. It contains flour, sugar, shortening, and dates, but no oil, eggs or butter. I served it last night to Theresa's godfather, and he admittedly was skeptical when I told him what was in it. But after one bite, he polished off his piece, and told me it was delicious.
So...don't write this one off yet folks. Bake one up for your family or friends, and see what they think!
1 cup chopped, dried dates *
1 1/2 cups hot water
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 2/3 cup all purpose flour
1 2/3 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
FOR THE TOPPING:
1/2 cup sugar
6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips (about 3/4 cup)
1/2 cup chopped pecans
* Make sure you buy chopped dates. If you buy whole dates, it's a rather sticky mess to try and chop them up yourself...take it from someone who's done it before and regretted it!
Grease and flour the bottom only of a 9x13 baking dish. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
We're going to rehydrate the dates first. Combine the dates, water, and baking soda. Set aside.
I know...it looks weird. But just you wait...it's going to be tasty y'all, trust me!
Use a stand mixer or hand-held mixer to cream the sugar, shortening, and salt together. Scrap down the bowl once or twice to make sure everything is well incorporated.
Add the water/date mixture to the bowl, along with the flour and vanilla. You'll want to do this on low speed at first, otherwise the water will splash everywhere.
Mix everything together for just a couple of minutes. The batter will be a pale brown, with visible bits of dates.
Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan.
Combine the topping ingredients--the sugar, chocolate chips, and nuts in a small bowl.
Sprinkle it all over the top...sometimes I do the sugar, chips, and nuts seperately to distribute it more evenly. Do whatever melts your butter. ;-)
Doesn't that look good?
Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes. Let cool before serving at room temperature (I think it cuts better when it's mostly cool).
Mmm...come to Mama!
Now, not all of my kids will eat this, but my husband LOVES it. I've seen him and his 2 brothers sit around the kitchen table and fight over this cake! I personally love the cake unadorned, but a little whipped cream is lovely too.
So there you go...another one of our very favorite desserts here. I've never had anybody say they didn't like this cake. And I'd like to think it's not that bad for you, unless you're my hubby and have 3 pieces at one sitting. ;-)
Enjoy, and God bless your table tonight!