My mother loved this bread a sliver at a time with tea in the evenings. You could make one big cake in a one-pound coffee can but I like making three because then you have one to serve, one to freeze and one to give as a gift. You could also use your favorite quick bread recipe and bake it this way or even in a Ball jar. I know a woman from Canton, Ohio, Elizabeth Kisch, who won first place in a cake contest I judged, and she made her family's holiday chocolate toffee cake. One year her husband had to be out of town during the holidays, so she baked the cake in Ball jars, threw the lids on while it was still warm to sterilize them and then tucked them into her husband's suitcase — a surprise when he got to the other end.
3 empty (14-ounce) cans (like leftover bean cans), open on one end, and greased and floured.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In a small bowl mix together the dates, pecans, and orange zest; then toss with 2 tablespoons of flour to coat.
In another bowl, whisk together the remaining 2 cups flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
In a standing mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, cream the butter until light and fluffy. Add the sugar and continue to mix; then add the egg and mix until incorporated. Working in 3 batches, alternately add the flour mixture and orange juice, mixing well after each
addition. Stir in the flour-coated nut mixture.
Spoon the batter into the cans, filling them 3/4 full. Transfer the cans to a sheet pan and bake until puffed, golden brown, and firm, about 50 minutes. Let the bread cool in the cans for 5 minutes before unmolding, or let them cool completely in the cans and wrap as a gift.