"A recipe I started making for my Muslim friends for when they celebrate Eid, and I was able to share with my Sikh grandmother who is vegetarian and doesn't eat eggs. I got the original recipe from an Indian cooking blog, but modified it to the recipe I currently use below. Now it's my most requested cake no matter what the occasion! Delicious on its own, with a cup of tea, or warmed up and topped with vanilla ice cream!"
Heat milk in a saucepan until almost boiling and stir in dates; let soak for several hours, refrigerated. For best flavor, refrigerate dates and milk overnight.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a medium loaf pan.
Transfer milk and dates to food processor, add brown sugar, and process into a smooth paste. Mix in vegetable oil and vanilla extract with a few pulses.
Whisk flour, baking soda, and cinnamon in a bowl until thoroughly combined. Pulse flour mixture, about 1/4 cup at a time, into the date paste until batter is smooth; do not overmix. Stir walnuts into batter with a fork and transfer to the prepared loaf pan.
Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean, about 40 minutes.
If you're really short on time, microwave the milk and dates together in a microwave-safe bowl until milk is almost boiling and let the mixture cool.
The recipe above works well in an 8-inch cake pan as well if you'd rather serve it that way. You could pipe buttercream or cream cheese frosting to decorate.
If you want to make 2 loaves, I suggest increasing the temperature to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C), and giving the cakes an aluminum foil tent once the top of the loaves start getting dark. Two loaves will require about an hour in the oven. Check with a toothpick.