Hello, Good News! Welcome to another article where we share with you some of the best recipes from around the world. Today, we are going to talk about a very special cake that has a long history and a unique flavor. It’s called the hermit cake, and it’s a moist and dense cake filled with dates, nuts, and spices. It’s similar to a fruit cake, but without the candied fruits and with a more subtle sweetness.
The hermit cake is said to have originated in New England in the 19th century, where it was popular among sailors and fishermen who needed a durable and nutritious snack that could last for long voyages. The name “hermit” may come from the fact that the cake improves with age, and can be stored for weeks or even months in a cool and dry place. Some people also say that the name refers to the dark and wrinkled appearance of the cake, which resembles an old hermit.
What Makes a Good Hermit Cake?
A good hermit cake should have a rich and buttery texture, with a tender crumb and a crunchy crust. The cake should be packed with chopped dates and nuts, which add sweetness, chewiness, and nuttiness to every bite. The cake should also have a warm and aromatic flavor, thanks to the addition of spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla. Some people also like to add lemon juice or zest to brighten up the flavor and balance the sweetness.
The key to making a good hermit cake is to use high-quality ingredients and follow some simple tips. Here are some of them:
Use room temperature butter and eggs
Butter and eggs are essential ingredients for making a good hermit cake, as they provide fat, moisture, and structure to the batter. To ensure that they blend well with the other ingredients, you should bring them to room temperature before using them. This will help you achieve a smooth and creamy batter that will bake evenly and rise properly.
Use fresh dates and nuts
Dates and nuts are the stars of the hermit cake, so you should use fresh and high-quality ones for the best results. Dates should be soft, moist, and plump, not dry or hard. Nuts should be crisp, not rancid or stale. You can use any kind of nuts you like, such as walnuts, pecans, almonds, or pistachios. You can also toast them lightly in the oven or on the stove to enhance their flavor and crunchiness.
Don’t overmix or overbake the batter
One of the most common mistakes when making a hermit cake is to overmix or overbake the batter. Overmixing can cause gluten development, which can make the cake tough and dense. Overbaking can cause the cake to dry out and lose its moisture and flavor. To avoid these problems, you should mix the batter just until all the ingredients are well combined, no more. You should also check the doneness of the cake by inserting a toothpick or a skewer in the center. If it comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs, it’s done.
How to Make a Hermit Cake: A Classic Recipe
Now that you know what makes a good hermit cake, let’s see how to make one using a classic recipe that has been passed down for generations. This recipe is adapted from [Old Hermit Cake Recipe](^1^), which claims to be over 100 years old and tastes like hermit cookies. It uses butter, brown sugar, eggs, lemon juice, vanilla extract, flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, dates, and walnuts as the main ingredients.
The recipe is very easy to follow and requires only basic baking skills. Here are the steps:
Step 1: Preheat oven and prepare pan
Preheat your oven to 275 degrees F (135 degrees C) and grease and flour a 10-inch angel food tube pan. You can also line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper for easier removal.
Step 2: Cream butter and sugar
In a large bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. This will take about 5 minutes.
Step 3: Add eggs one at a time
Add eggs one at a time to the butter-sugar mixture, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
Step 4: Add lemon juice and vanilla
Add lemon juice and vanilla extract to the batter and mix well.
Step 5: Add dry ingredients
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until well combined. The batter will be thick.
Step 6: Stir in dates and nuts
Using a wooden spoon or a spatula, stir in dates and walnuts to the batter. Make sure they are evenly distributed throughout the batter.
Step 7: Pour batter into pan and bake
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth out the top. Bake the cake in the preheated oven for about 2 1/2 to 3 hours, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Step 8: Cool and serve
Let the cake cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. Then, remove it from the pan and transfer it to a serving plate or a cake stand. You can dust it with some powdered sugar if you like, or serve it plain. Enjoy your hermit cake with some whipped cream, ice cream, or custard, or simply with a cup of tea or coffee.
How to Make a Hermit Cake: A Twist on the Classic Recipe
If you want to try something different from the classic hermit cake recipe, you can experiment with some variations and add your own twist to it. Here are some ideas:
Add some chocolate chips or chunks
If you are a chocolate lover, you can add some chocolate chips or chunks to the batter for some extra decadence. You can use milk, dark, or white chocolate, depending on your preference. You can also drizzle some melted chocolate over the cake for a more indulgent look.
Add some dried fruits or candied peels
If you want to make your hermit cake more fruity and colorful, you can add some dried fruits or candied peels to the batter. You can use any kind of dried fruits you like, such as cranberries, cherries, apricots, figs, or raisins. You can also use some candied orange or lemon peels for some citrusy flavor and zest.
Add some rum or brandy
If you want to make your hermit cake more boozy and festive, you can add some rum or brandy to the batter. You can also soak the dates and nuts in some rum or brandy before adding them to the batter for more flavor and moisture. You can also brush some rum or brandy over the cake after baking for more aroma and taste.
A Table Breakdown of Hermit Cake Ingredients and Their Benefits
The hermit cake is not only delicious but also nutritious. It contains many ingredients that have various health benefits for your body and mind. Here is a table breakdown of some of the main ingredients of the hermit cake and their benefits:
| Ingredient | Benefit |
| — | — |
| Butter | Butter is a source of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K, which are essential for various functions in the body such as vision, bone health, immunity, and blood clotting. Butter also contains butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid that has anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. |
| Brown sugar | Brown sugar is a type of sugar that contains molasses, which gives it a darker color and a richer flavor than white sugar. Brown sugar also contains trace amounts of minerals such as calcium, iron, potassium, and magnesium. Brown sugar may have some benefits for skin health, as it can act as a natural exfoliant and moisturizer. |
| Eggs | Eggs are one of the most complete sources of protein, as they contain all nine essential amino acids that the body cannot produce on its own. Eggs also contain choline, a nutrient that is important for brain development and function. Eggs are also rich in antioxidants such as lutein and zeaxanthin, which protect the eyes from age-related macular degeneration. |
| Lemon juice | Lemon juice is a good source of vitamin C, which is an antioxidant that boosts immunity and helps fight infections. Lemon juice also has antibacterial and antiviral properties that can help prevent or treat sore throat, colds, flu, and other illnesses. Lemon juice also aids digestion and detoxification by stimulating saliva production and bile flow. |
| Vanilla extract | Vanilla extract is made from vanilla beans, which are the podsof the plant Vanilla planifolia, which are native to Mexico and Central America. Vanilla extract has a sweet and floral flavor that enhances the taste of baked goods, desserts, and beverages. Vanilla extract also has some health benefits, such as reducing inflammation, improving mood, and relieving stress. |
| Flour | Flour is a staple ingredient in baking, as it provides structure and texture to cakes, breads, cookies, and other baked goods. Flour is made from ground grains, such as wheat, rye, barley, or oats. Flour contains carbohydrates, which are the main source of energy for the body. Flour also contains protein, fiber, and some vitamins and minerals, depending on the type of grain used. |
| Baking powder | Baking powder is a leavening agent that helps cakes rise and become light and fluffy. Baking powder is a mixture of baking soda, cream of tartar, and cornstarch. Baking powder reacts with moisture and heat to produce carbon dioxide gas, which creates air bubbles in the batter. Baking powder also helps neutralize the acidity of some ingredients, such as lemon juice or brown sugar. |
| Cinnamon | Cinnamon is a spice that comes from the inner bark of several tree species belonging to the genus Cinnamomum. Cinnamon has a warm and sweet flavor that complements many dishes, especially baked goods, desserts, and beverages. Cinnamon also has many health benefits, such as lowering blood sugar levels, reducing inflammation, fighting infections, and improving brain function. |
| Salt | Salt is a mineral that consists of sodium and chloride. Salt is essential for life, as it regulates fluid balance, blood pressure, nerve transmission, and muscle contraction in the body. Salt also enhances the flavor of food by bringing out its natural sweetness and reducing bitterness. Salt also acts as a preservative by inhibiting the growth of bacteria and fungi. |
| Dates | Dates are the fruits of the date palm tree, which grows in tropical and subtropical regions of the world. Dates are soft, chewy, and sweet, with a caramel-like flavor. Dates are rich in natural sugars, fiber, antioxidants, and minerals such as potassium, magnesium, iron, and calcium. Dates have many health benefits, such as improving digestion, boosting energy levels, preventing anemia, and supporting bone health. |
| Walnuts | Walnuts are the edible seeds of the walnut tree, which belongs to the Juglandaceae family. Walnuts have a hard shell and a wrinkled kernel that resembles a human brain. Walnuts have a nutty and slightly bitter flavor that goes well with many dishes, especially baked goods and salads. Walnuts are high in healthy fats, protein, fiber, antioxidants, and omega-3 fatty acids. Walnuts have many health benefits,
such as lowering cholesterol levels, improving heart health, enhancing brain function,
and preventing cancer.
FAQs About Hermit Cake
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about hermit cake:
Hermit cake and hermit cookies are both made from similar ingredients: butter,
they differ in their shape,
Hermit cake is baked in a large pan
and cut into slices or wedges.
It has a moist
and dense texture
and a crunchy crust.
Hermit cookies are baked in small portions
and shaped into rounds or bars.
They have a soft
and chewy texture
and a smooth surface.
How long does hermit cake last?
Hermit cake can last for several weeks or even months if stored properly.
The best way to store hermit cake is to wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil
and keep it in a cool
and dry place.
You can also refrigerate or freeze hermit cake for longer shelf life.
To thaw frozen hermit cake,
let it sit at room temperature for a few hours before serving.
Can I make hermit cake gluten-free?
you can make hermit cake gluten-free by using gluten-free flour instead of regular flour.
You can use any kind of gluten-free flour you like,
such as almond flour,
or rice flour.
You may need to adjust the amount of liquid or leavening agent depending on the type of flour you use.
You can also add some xanthan gum or psyllium husk to help bind the batter together.
Can I make hermit cake vegan?
you can make hermit cake vegan by using vegan butter or oil instead of butter
and flax eggs instead of eggs.
To make flax eggs,
mix one tablespoon of ground flax seeds with three tablespoons of water
and let it sit for 15 minutes until it becomes gel-like.
You can also use other egg substitutes,
such as applesauce,
Can I make hermit cake sugar-free?
you can make hermit cake sugar-free by using sugar-free sweeteners instead of brown sugar.
You can use any kind of sugar-free sweeteners you like,
such as erythritol,
You may need to adjust the amount of sweetener depending on its sweetness level and your taste preference.
You can also use natural sweeteners,
such as honey,
or agave nectar.
Can I make hermit cake nut-free?
you can make hermit cake nut-free by omitting the nuts from the batter
or replacing them with other ingredients.
You can use any kind of seeds you like,
such as sunflower seeds,
or sesame seeds.
You can also use dried fruits,
such as cranberries,
Can I make hermit cake dairy-free?
you can make hermit cake dairy-free by using dairy-free butter or oil instead of butter
and dairy-free milk instead of water or lemon juice.
You can use any kind of dairy-free butter or oil you like,
such as coconut oil,
or avocado oil.
You can also use any kind of dairy-free milk you like,
such as almond milk,
or oat milk.
How do I know when my hermit cake is done?
You can tell when your hermit cake is done by inserting a toothpick or a skewer in the center of the cake.
If it comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs, it’s done.
If it comes out wet or with batter, it’s not done yet and needs more baking time.
You can also check the color and texture of the cake.
It should be golden brown and firm to the touch.
How do I cut my hermit cake?
You can cut your hermit cake into any shape or size you like, depending on how you want to serve it. You can cut it into slices, wedges, squares, or bars. You can use a sharp knife, a serrated knife, or a pastry cutter to cut your hermit cake. You should let your hermit cake cool completely before cutting it, as it will be easier to handle and less likely to crumble.
How do I serve my hermit cake?
You can serve your hermit cake in many ways, depending on your occasion and preference. You can serve it plain, or with some toppings or accompaniments. You can dust it with some powdered sugar, drizzle it with some melted chocolate, or spread some cream cheese frosting over it. You can also serve it with some whipped cream, ice cream, or custard. You can also serve it with some fresh fruits, such as berries, bananas, or apples. You can enjoy your hermit cake with a cup of tea, coffee, milk, or juice.
We hope you enjoyed this article about how to make a delicious hermit cake. Hermit cake is a classic recipe that has a long history and a unique flavor. It’s a moist and dense cake filled with dates, nuts, and spices. It’s easy to make and lasts for a long time. You can also customize it with your own twist and variations. Hermit cake is not only tasty but also healthy, as it contains many ingredients that have various benefits for your body and mind.
If you liked this article, please check out our other articles where we share more recipes from around the world. We have articles on how to make baklava, tiramisu, pavlova, and more. You can also subscribe to our newsletter to get updates on our latest articles and offers. Thank you for reading and happy baking!