Date Nut War Cake with English Custard – 2020 Red Carpet Menu for Oscar®!


It’s the 2020 Red Carpet Menu for Oscar®! For 1917 (Time is the Enemy), it’s 19-17lbs. (Cake is the Enemy)!


It’s been such a delight to have Joe Becwar in the trenches with me this year!! So glad he could join me on this journey!

This was a beautifully shot movie that shows the ravages of war during World War I and a particularly important mission that had to be carried out in mere hours. Fast-paced and nerve-racking, you were IN IT! I believe this film could take Oscar gold.


This was the most difficult dish to create ever. A date as the title was, to say the least, limiting. Thankfully there was a tagline to work with. The title is a date so of course I’d use dates! The mission was NUTS, so here we used nuts. There was a bucket of milk, so it was only right to honor it as an English Custard with this authentic War Cake, which was a type of cake made during the war that used no eggs, or dairy due to shortages. I guess that makes it vegan!


Peggy Dufresne, Diane Chudley, and Andy Luke for getting me to this dessert. The dense cake is just sweet enough and the creamy vanilla English Custard enriches the whole dish. I love this cake!!!!  



KitchAnnette JB AZ 1917





Date Nut War Cake with English Custard

Annette Zito, KitchAnnette™
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes


The Cake

  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 tbsp shortening
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1-1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 2 cups dates, pitted and chopped (approx. 25 dates)
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tbsp hot water
  • 1 cup almonds, chopped

The Custard

  • 5 large egg yolks, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2-1/4 tsp vanilla


The Cake

  • Add brown sugar, 2 cups water, shortening, salt, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, and dates to a large saucepan. Stir and bring to a boil for 5 minutes. Allow to cool.
  • Dissolve baking soda in 1 tbsp water then add it, the flour, and almonds to the saucepan and mix well. Place in a parchment-lined loaf pan and bake at 350° for 50-60 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.

The Custard

  • In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until the mixture is smooth.
  • Heat the cream, milk, and vanilla in a small saucepan just until bubbles form along the edges of the pan.
  • Remove 1/2 cup of the hot cream and pour into the egg mixture, whisking constantly. Gradually pour the egg yolk mixture back into the saucepan continuously whisking. Continue to cook and whisk until it begins to thicken. Then using a wooden spoon, see if the mixture leaves a layer on the back of spoon. Run your finger through it and if it doesn’t run, it’s ready. DO NOT BOIL. Cover and chill.
  • Slice a piece of cake and plate. Ladle a bit of the custard over the top and serve.


I used vanilla extract to keep it simple but feel free to substitute with 1 tbsp vanilla bean paste or one vanilla bean cut open lengthwise.

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