During the holiday season, every culture has traditions that are cherished and celebrated. Mennonite and Amish culture is no different, particularly in foods. Here in Ohio, no holiday meal (Christmas or Thanksgiving) would be complete without serving date pudding.
No, it’s not a pudding that you’d find in sealed plastic cups at the grocery store! It’s actually a very moist cake, flavored with dates, nuts and lots of sugar. And while we can’t say exactly when or why the date pudding tradition started, it’s certainly a fine way to celebrate Christmas or any important occasion.
There is no right or wrong way to make date pudding. Recipes are handed down through the generations and each family thinks their version is the best! Date pudding may be baked Up-side Down (or right side up), with bananas, without bananas, with caramel sauce and so on. My own Grandma Miller served date pudding cake broken into pieces and mixed thoroughly with fresh whipped cream (made from milk from the cows gave that morning), placed in a large deep dessert bowl and topped with bananas.
I’ve personally made date pudding several ways, but here is the recipe that I’ve used the most. It’s actually the recipe Der Dutchman Restaurant uses to make the date pudding they’ve served for 40 years.
Amish Date Pudding
1 cup boiling water
1 teaspoon soda
1 cup chopped dates (buy them already chopped or use a food processor to chop whole dates)
1 cup sugar
1 cup flour
1 tablespoon butter
1 egg, beaten
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup walnuts
Pour boiling water over dates and soda. Let set until cool. Add date mixture to the rest of the ingredients. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Test the cake with a toothpick – if it comes out clean, the cake is ready. Cut into squares and top with whipped cream, walnuts and bananas.