The key to this corn bread is coarse stone-ground cornmeal. The cornmeal from War Eagle Mill in Arkansas is especially good; though the mill sells white cornmeal, the yellow variety makes a prettier bread (wareaglemill.com).
6 Medjool dates, pitted and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons honey
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Preheat the oven to 400°. In a 10-inch cast-iron skillet, toast the cumin seeds over moderate heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. Let cool, then transfer to a mortar and grind to a powder. Spread the pecans in a pie plate and toast in the oven for 5 minutes, or until lightly browned. Let cool, then coarsely chop the nuts.
Add the oil to the skillet and heat in the oven. In a large bowl, whisk the cornmeal with the flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Stir in the dates, pecans and cumin. In a medium bowl, mix the eggs, milk, honey and butter; then gently stir into the cornmeal just until blended.
Tilt the hot skillet to coat it with oil. Pour the corn bread batter into the skillet and bake for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown and the top springs back when lightly pressed. Transfer the corn bread to a wire rack to cool, then cut into wedges and serve warm or at room temperature.
The corn bread can be baked 8 hours ahead. Rewarm before serving.