Pumpkin Seed Date Cake with caramelized pumpkin seeds, pumpkin seed oil, farina and whole wheat flour, sweetened with dates; an Autumn classic.
Mediterranean Farina Date Cakes
While many countries bring us fluffy white, moist and sweet cakes, the cakes that often come from Mediterranean regions are dense, rustic and more earthy in texture.
The rustic texture that farina brings to most Middle Eastern cakes, sweetened with a date paste filling, mingled with the autumn twist of toasted pumpkin seeds and pumpkin seed oil, makes for a rich fusion of Middle Eastern and American cuisines.
Many cake recipes from Greece to Egypt are made with farina, often sweetened with dates or honey, and incorporate nuts or seeds into them.
What Is Farina?
Farina, also known as Cream of Wheat, is the primary ingredient in many of the Syrian desserts I knew as a child.
The texture is slightly coarser than regular flour, since it is ground from the germ of the wheat and its flavor, to me, seems more rustic and reminds me more of corn flour than wheat flour.
A favorite date filled cookie, was the inspiration for this cake creation, that, and the autumn season that had set in when I was in the mood to create this cake.
The date cookie, a traditional Arab Cookie my mom used to make, is also made with farina and stuffed with a date paste.
This unique pumpkin seed, autumn cake was created to replicate that cookie. However, pumpkin seed oil and the pumpkin seeds were my primary focus to showcase, since they are unusual and delicate in flavor.
While I did not grow up eating pumpkin seeds, once I tasted the delicate nutty flavor of roasted pumpkin seeds I knew I had to make something special with them.
At first, I noticed other people enjoying the roasted pumpkin seeds with salt on them and eating them like popcorn or peanuts, but I wanted to try them in a sweet cake.
The roasted pumpkin seed oil had such an intense nutty flavor, I decided to blend it with a little butter to soften its intensity and use the two together as the rich fat in this cake.
How To Make Farina Date and Pumpkin Seed Cake
While the farina cake has the delicate flavor of orange blossom and orange juice, along with the richness from butter and pumpkin seed oil, the date filling is where layers of warm spices will be found.
Once the cake batter is mixed, half of the batter goes into a spring form pan, date filling is spread on top, finished off with the remaining batter, and baked.
A drizzle of date syrup goes on top of the baked cake followed by a lovely crunchy caramelized pumpkin seed toffee.
- Farina (Cream of Wheat)
- Whole wheat flour
- Baking powder
- Baking soda
- Toasted Pumpkin Seed Oil
- Orange juice
- Orange blossom water
- Pitted dates
- Pumpkin seed oil
- Orange juice
- Orange zest
- Date syrup – an absolute must to have in your pantry!
- Raw Pumpkin Seeds
- Spring form cake pan – I probably use this pan for most of my cake baking.
- Two mixing bowls
- Small sauté pan
- Measuring cup
- Measuring spoons
- Rubber spatula
- Food processor
More Mediterranean Desserts To Love
While everyone is partial to the flavors they grew up with, I believe the sweet treats of the Mediterranean regions of the world, are among the healthiest of sweet treats.
The reason for this is the abundance of unprocessed ingredients used in their cooking and baking.
Allow me to share with you a few more of my favorite Mediterranean sweet treats I believe you will love!
- Tuscan Chestnut Coffee Torta – Chestnut Coffee Torta is a popular Tuscan Torta (cake), of chestnuts, cacao, coffee, laced with a little rum, and chocolate, if you must!
- Middle Eastern Baklawa – different from Greek Baklava, in that we use honey rather than a simple syrup pour.
- Carob Butter Dried Fruit Almond Torte – This Carob Butter Dried Fruit Almond Torte is made with dates and prunes, lots of eggs, crushed almonds and a spread of Carob butter on top.
Pumpkin Seed Date Cake
- 9-inch Springform pan
- 1 1/2 cups Farina (Cream of Wheat Cereal)
- 1 1/2 cups Whole Wheat Flour
- 1/2 cup Sugar
- 1 tsp Baking powder
- 1/2 tsp Baking soda
- 1/3 cup Toasted Pumpkin Seed Oil or olive oil
- 3 tbsp Butter melted and cooled
- 1 cup Orange Juice plus zest
- 1/2 tsp Orange Blossom Water
- 3 Large Eggs
- Date Filling
- 2 cups Pitted Dates
- 2 tbsp Pumpkin Seed Oil
- 1/4 cup Orange juice
- 2 tsp Cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp Cloves
- 1/4 tsp Nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp Zest of Orange
- 1/4 cup Date Syrup agave or honey
- 1 tbsp Orange juice
- Caramelized Pumpkin Seeds
- 1/3 cup Raw Pumpkin Seeds
- 1 tbsp Sugar
- Preheat oven to 350. Prepare a spring-form pan with non-stick spray.
- Mix the dry ingredients of the cake in one bowl. Mix the wet ingredients in a larger bowl. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet and set aside.
- Date Filling
- Puree the Date filling ingredients in a food processor, and set aside.
- Place half of the cake batter mixture into the prepared baking pan. Spread evenly.
- Pour the date filling on top of the cake batter. Spread evenly.
- Pour the remainder of the cake batter on top of the filling, and spread evenly.
- Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 35 – 45 minutes depending on the size of your pan.
- Drizzle and Pumpkin Seed Topping
- While the cake is baking, mix the drizzle ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
- Caramelize the pumpkin seeds in a warm pan with the sugar, tossing with a watchful eye just until the sugar melts and caramelizes the seeds into a toffee. Transfer the caramelized seeds to a plate or parchment paper, to cool.
- Once the cake is baked and cooled, remove it from the spring-form pan and onto a serving plate.
- Drizzle the date syrup mixture across the top and let it run down the sides.
- Finish the cake with the caramelized seeds sprinkled across the top of the cake.