Semolina Cake
Chef David Davenport’s Semolina Cake. Photo by Lynae Sowinski

Part 7 of a web-exclusive holiday recipe series that will enliven your holiday cooking. Click here to see all of the recipes from the series.

With nuts and dried fruits galore, these holiday cake and bread recipes will become instant classics.

Semolina Cake
Chef David Davenport
Bloomington Cooking School 

1 stick salted butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups semolina flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 eggs
1 cup yogurt
sliced almonds, to taste
8-inch-by-12-inch cake pan

1) Cream butter, sugar, and vanilla together.

2) Sift semolina flour, baking soda, and baking powder together.

3) Add eggs, mix one at a time, to the creamed mixture. Mix in yogurt.

4) Fold in the dry mixture, one-third at a time. Do not over-beat.

5) Spread mixture into the cake pan evenly. Sprinkle with almonds.

6) Bake for 20-25 minutes at 350ºF or until toothpick comes out clean.

7) As soon as the cake is removed from the oven, spoon simple syrup over the cake. Leave to cool.

Simple syrup:
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
lemon juice, to taste

1) Combine ingredients, boil for a few minutes.

2) Place the sauce pan in cold water to cool.

Cranberry Bread
David Davenport’s Cranberry Bread. Photo by Lynae Sowinski

Cranberry Bread
David Davenport
Bloomington Cooking School

2 cups cranberries, halved
3/4 cup walnuts, chopped
2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons aluminum-free baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1 stick butter, softened
3/4 cup buttermilk
3 eggs
1/2 of a Fuji apple, diced
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1) Spray and flour a standard loaf pan (the dough will stick even if the pan says it is non-stick). Place wax paper in the bottom of the pan and spray the paper.

2)  Mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Set aside.

3)  Cream the butter and the sugar. Add eggs one at a time and mix well after each egg.

4) Mix in the buttermilk. The mixture may appear to have curdled, but this is not a problem.

5) Mix a small amount of the flour mixture with the cranberries.

6) Combine rest of flour mixture with the liquid mixture. Beat the batter with an electric mixer on medium speed for one minute.

7) Fold apples, cranberries, walnuts, and vanilla into the batter.
8) Pour batter into the prepared loaf pan and smooth the top. Bake in a 350-degree oven for an hour. Check to see if a knife comes out clean. If not, put the bread back in the oven.  Check again in ten minutes.


Persimmon Cake
David Davenport’s Persimmon Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting. Photo by Lynae Sowinski

Persimmon Cake
David Davenport
Bloomington Cooking School

3/4 cup dried currants
1/4 cup brandy
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon aluminum-free baking power
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 2/3 cups sugar
1 cup butter
1 1/2 cups persimmon pulp
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts

Special note: Spray the bundt pan with Pam and dust it with flour before filling it with the cake batter. This recipe will stick—even when using a nonstick pan.

1) Mix currants and brandy in a small bowl and set aside to soak.

2) Mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg thoroughly. Set aside.

3) Using an electric mixer, cream the sugar and butter together until light and fluffy.

4) Add and mix eggs to the butter mixture one at a time.

5) Add persimmon pulp and vanilla and mix thoroughly. Carefully mix in the flour mixture.

6) Stir in the walnuts and brandy-soaked currants to the mixture.

7) Evenly spoon the cake batter into the sprayed-and-floured bundt pan.

8) Bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees, or until a knife inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.

Cream Cheese Frosting

1/2 pound cream cheese
4 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar

1) Using an electric mixer, cream together the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla.

2) On low speed, slowly mix in the powdered sugar. Once all of the powdered sugar has been added, whip on high speed for one minute.

3) If needed, thin mixture with a little bit of water or milk.

Date Bread
Chef David Davenport’s Date Nut Bread with Maple Schmear. Photo by Lynae Sowinski

Date Nut Bread
Chef David Davenport
Bloomington Cooking School

2 cups dates, chopped
2 cups walnuts, chopped
1 tablespoon baking soda
6 tablespoons Crisco
1 1/2 cups boiling water
4 eggs, thoroughly whisked
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 loaf pans (3 1/2 inches by 2 1/4 inches by 8 inches), sprayed with Pam

1) Mix the dates, walnuts, baking soda, and Crisco together. Mix in the boiling water and set aside for 15 minutes.

2) Mix the flour, salt, and sugar. Then mix in the eggs. If needed, add a small amount of water to help bind the mixture.

3) Combine the two mixtures thoroughly. Then evenly spoon into loaf pans.

4) Place the pans on a tray and bake at 350ºF for one hour. Test with a toothpick or pastry probe.

Maple Schmear
David Davenport
Bloomington Cooking School

1 pound cream cheese
maple syrup, to taste

1) Beat the cream cheese thoroughly with an electric mixer.

2) Add maple syrup and mix. Be careful not to add too much maple syrup in the beginning — taste as you go and add more if needed.