There is little known about the origins of this recipe or baked dish. It is believed to have become popularized during the 1930s. It is a popular holiday dish in the Philippines but does is not proved to have originated from the country. It is more of an adapted dish.
It is highly likely that it is of Spanish origin because of a bread with almost very similar ingredients. The bread is called Pan de Datil which is made of the same basic ingredients; walnuts, flour, dates, figs and butter.
The dish has been popular in the Philippines since around the 1900s and has been called Food for the Gods due to expensiveness of its ingredients. The Gods could have been a referral to rich people or people of high authority who have the means and luxury to afford such a dish.
It is also believed that the Pan de Latil bread’s name was changed and the ingredients slightly altered during the American colonization in the Philippines. Some believe that the recipe is North American and was learned by locals foreigners settled in during the colonization.
Another origin of the Food for the Gods to be plausible is the Date Squares dish from North America. It is also suspected that the fruit cake is inspired by the north American Date Square. Date squares are, however, made of cooked oats or coffee cake with walnuts and dates. The oats serve as a crumb topping. This sweet snack food is often found in coffee shops. They are also known as Matrimonial Cakes in Canada. They are named that way as because of its smooth and rough texture combination, which is a reference to the qualities of married experience.
|Prep time||Cook time||Ready in||Yields|
- Butter 1 ½ cups (2 and 1/2 sticks)
- Pecans (chopped) 1 cup
- Walnuts (chopped) 1 ½ cups
- Pitted Dates 1 cup
- Raisins 1 cup
- Brown Sugar ¾ cup
- All-purpose Flour 2 cups
- White Sugar ¾ cups
- Eggs (whole) 4 pcs. small
- Vanilla 1 tsp
- Baking Powder 1 tsp
- Salt ¼ tsp
Utensils for Preparation and Cooking
|Measuring Cup||Small/ Medium Saucepan||Cutting Board|
Plates (for serving)
Mixing Bowls (2 large 1 medium)
Preparation for Baking:
Prepare a saucepan, chopping board, knife for chopping and mixing bowls.
Take out a saucepan, small or medium, for melting butter. Set the fire on low heat. Make sure that the pan is already hot enough before placing the butter in. Melt the butter and make sure not to overcook it, because it will become too brown and dissipate. It will take only about half a minute to melt the butter enough. It should not be melted into liquid form, but rather a mushy, chunky form. Once it’s done, remove the pan from heat and place it in a medium sized bowl. Set the melted butter aside to cool.
Now, the dates to get should be pitted. If that’s not available, you will have to manually remove the pits from the dates. Once that is done, roughly chop the dates, and then the walnuts and pecans next. There is no need to use a food processor because the pieces shouldn’t be too small or ground. It should be quite chunky. Put the raisins along with the chopped dates, pecans and walnuts together in one large mixing bowl. Sprinkle in some flour to prevent it from sticking to the sides of the bowl. Mix evenly and set that aside.
Take out the remaining mixing bowl and put in the flour. Combine it with the baking powder and salt. Mix it well with a whisk or mixing spoon. Set the flour mixture aside.
Buy pitted dates, it is preferable because it will make things easier and the preparation time faster.
If you are early to start, you may choose not to melt the butter under low heat in the pan. Instead, have the butter sticks out of the fridge at least 20 minutes before you start preparations and baking. By the time you start making the dish, the butter will have melted enough to mash.
It is best to place the butter in the medium sized bowl when choosing to let it melt on normal temperature.
Do not immediately throw away the plastic wrappers of the butter sticks. You can scrape the butter residue off of it and put it along with the butter in the bowl. You can also use the butter you scraped off as the grease for the baking pan. In this way, no bit of ingredient is wasted.
Prepare a mixing bowl, whisk or spoon for mixing, baking pan and ingredients. Preheat the oven to 350° Fahrenheit. Grease the baking pan with some of the butter and set aside.
The butter in the medium sized bowl should be cool by now. Add the white sugar and brown sugar into it. Mix the ingredients thoroughly. The texture should become fluffy. Once it does become fluffy, beat in the eggs, one at a time. Mix these together until they are well distributed. Take the flour mixture and add it gradually onto the butter mixture while stirring. Add in the vanilla until it is well incorporated.
Pour the batter into the baking pan. Bake this for about 10 minutes and then lower the temperature of the oven to 300°. Continue to bake it for 35 minutes or until it is well done. Use a toothpick to check if it is done, the texture should be crumbly and dry. The toothpick should also be clean when removed from the cake. Remove the baked goods from the oven and allow it to cool for 10 to 20 minutes. Cut the cake in 2 ½ inch squares and serve.
It is ideal to use a 9 x 11 inch baking pan or two 8 x 8 inch pans when baking the mixture. The depth of the dough is thick enough for snacking or for dessert.
You may substitute other types of nuts, preferably unsalted ones. If nuts are not available, adding more raisins should be best.
Some recipes use yeast and include molasses. For this, you will only need ¼ cup of molasses.
Another ingredient that some recipes include is cocoa nibs or cocoa powder.
Food for the Gods cake is usually cut into rectangular bars. You can wrap them in decorated plastic wrappers, aluminium or cellophane wraps. They can also be put in decorated gift boxes for giving on special occasions.
Fun Facts on Food for the Gods
Food for the Gods is a holiday treat that is common and abundant in the Philippines. They are also often used as edible gifts for families on Christmas.
Food for the Gods is often confused with Food of the Gods which is ambrosia. It is made of fruits and coconut layers and is popularly known as Fruit cake.
Another Food of the Gods that gets confused with the latter is Cocoa. Cocoa literally means Food of the Gods, based on its scientific name Theobroma Cacao. It is sometimes included in several Food for the Gods recipes, most of which are for Vegans.
Food for the Gods is commonly known as Date and Walnut Bars, which is suggestive of its main fruit and nut ingredients.