Spiced Pumpkin and Date Loaf with Orange Icing

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I’ve been experimenting with traditional pumpkin fritter/pampoenkoekie recipes lately, so I had quite a bit of roast pumpkin left over. Luckily I also had Serena Jacobson’s vegetarian cookbook Fields of Flavour handy, so I adapted this cake recipe into a rather yummy loaf using the surplus pumpkin.

I love the subtle warmth that powdered ginger and nutmeg gives to the cake/bread, and also like to stir some chopped walnuts or pecans into the batter right at the end. Also, scattering finely chopped walnuts over the creamy orange-scented butter icing only improves the whole scenario. You can leave the icing off, and serve the bread more like a date loaf, to be sliced and spread with sweet butter. Any way you choose to have it, it’s delicious!

Pumpkin varies hugely in water content, depending on the time of the season – early summer ones can be very watery, and late summer pumpkins are much sweeter and more concentrated in taste. This is why I always roast pumpkin in chunks before I use it in baking, since baking dehydrates the pumpkin and intensifies the flavour. Peel and chop into chunks, spread out on baking trays, and roast at 180 C for about 30 minutes until tender but not caramelised.

Warming pitted dates in the microwave for no more than 30 seconds will make chopping them in your food processor so much easier. If you warm the dates for longer, you’ll end up with a very sticky puree in your food processor. Chop the dates first, scrape out of the bowl and set aside, and then proceed to puree the roasted pumpkin chunks to a smooth puree in the same bowl.

Lightly dusting chopped nuts in a little flour and shaking excess off in a sieve prevents the nuts from sinking to the bottom of the cake while baking.



3/4 cup (180 ml) castor sugar

1 cup (250 ml) butter, softened

1 t (15 ml) grated orange zest

2 large free-range eggs

1 cup (250 ml) pitted soft dates, finely chopped

3/4 cup (180 ml) finely mashed cooked pumpkin, preferably roasted so it’s quite dry

2 cups (500 ml) self-raising flour

1 t (5 ml) baking powder

1/2 cup (125 ml) milk


  1. Preheat the oven to 180 C and spray the inside of a 1 kg capacity loaf tin with Cook & Spray.
  2. Beat sugar and butter together in electric blender until pale and creamy. Add the orange zest and then add the eggs one at a time, making sure each egg is thoroughly amalgamated in the batter before adding the next ingredients.
  3. Add the dates and pumpkin, and beat at high speed for 3 minutes. Mix the baking powder with the flour and add 1/2 a cup (125 ml) at a time to the pumpkin with the blender’s motor running. Add the milk. Beat for another 3 minutes.
  4. Spoon the batter into the prepared loaf tin and smooth the top lightly with a spatula or back of a spoon. Back in the centre of the oven for 1 hour until a skewer inserted in the middle of the loaf comes out clean. Remove from oven and let stand for 15 minutes before removing from the tin and cooling an a metal rack.


1 1/2 cups (375 ml) icing sugar, sieved

1/2 cup (125 ml) butter, softened

grated zest of 1 orange

freshly squeezed juice of 1/2 orange

1 cup (250 ml) walnuts, lightly toasted and chopped


  1. Beat icing sugar and butter together in electric blender or food processor with the orange zest and juice until smooth. Use a spatula to spread it over the top of the loaf. Cut into slices to serve.

    spiced pumpkin loaf dates orange icing sonia cabano blog eatdrinkcapetown
    Spiced pumpkin and date loaf with orange icing



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Celebrating life with food, wine, friends & happiness! Writer, cook and blogger. Author of four cookbooks. Passionately South African, proudly Capetonian.