Date and car­damom cake with cof­fee frost­ing

Kuwait Times - - WHAT’S ON -

Ilove bak­ing, but un­til I was 16, our oven was just used as a place to keep big cut­ting boards and ex­iled fry­ing pans. My In­dian par­ents were of a place and time where no one had ovens at home. All breads were flat breads, like cha­p­at­tis, which were hand-rolled and cooked on the stove and all cakes, if any, were ei­ther baked with the help of the vil­lage bak­ery or pur­chased.

Even now, ovens are rare across the whole of In­dia be­cause there’s never been much of a cul­ture around bak­ing, so baked goods are pre­cious treats and bak­ers’ skills are revered. Hav­ing not grown up with bak­ing, the first cake I made felt like real magic. Cre­at­ing a goo out of eggs, but­ter, sugar and flour and watch­ing it rise into some­thing mag­nif­i­cent was very spe­cial to me and the to­tal op­po­site of the way we cooked In­dian food, by tast­ing, bal­anc­ing and ad­just­ing along the way.

Over time, clas­sics be­came min­gled with In­dian spices and in­gre­di­ents such as car­damom, cin­na­mon and dates - as in this cake. The dates add a lot of mois­ture, den­sity and a caramel fla­vor to the sponge and the spices add sweet­ness and ex­oti­cism. Strictly speak­ing, the ic­ing is un­nec­es­sary - a dust­ing of ic­ing sugar would do - but the cof­fee-but­ter ic­ing gives it a spe­cial cel­e­bra­tory feel, which is partly what bak­ing is re­ally all about.

Soft dates are best for this cake as they’ll add to the mois­ture. Prepa­ra­tion time: 30 min­utes Cook­ing time: 45 min­utes Ready time: 1 hour 15 min­utes Serv­ings: 10 In­gre­di­ents: Cake 1 stick but­ter, soft­ened, plus ex­tra for greas­ing 1 1/4 cups dates, pit­ted 3/4 cup sugar 2 large eggs 1 1/2 cups all-pur­pose flour 1 1/2 tsp ground car­damom 1 tsp ground cin­na­mon 2 tsp bak­ing pow­der A pinch of salt Frost­ing 6 tbsp but­ter, soft­ened 1 1/4 cups pow­der sugar 1 tsp in­stant cof­fee gran­ules 1 tbsp boil­ing water Prepa­ra­tion:

But­ter a loaf tin (ap­prox. 9 x 5 inches) and line with parch­ment pa­per. Pre­heat the oven to 350 F. Chop the dates and place them in a saucepan. Add 1 cup of water to the pan and bring to a boil over a low heat, stir­ring oc­ca­sion­ally. When the dates dis­in­te­grate into a soft paste, take off the heat and set aside.

In a mix­ing bowl, add the but­ter and sugar, cream to­gether, then add the eggs, mix­ing in one by one. Fold in the flour, bak­ing pow­der, salt and spices and when folded, add the date mix­ture and mix well.

Pour the bat­ter into the loaf tin and place in the cen­ter of the oven for 45 min­utes, or un­til a skewer comes out clean.

Leave the cake in the tin to cool be­fore re­mov­ing. To make the frost­ing, mix the cof­fee gran­ules with a ta­ble­spoon of boil­ing water (no more or you’ll have wet frost­ing un­til the gran­ules dis­solve. Add the but­ter and sugar and whisk un­til soft and creamy.

When the cake has cooled, re­move from the tin and smooth the frost­ing over the top. Nu­tri­tional in­for­ma­tion Calo­ries: 404 (152 calo­ries from fat), Fat: 17 g (11 g sat­u­rated; 1 g trans), Choles­terol: 86 mg, Sodium: 155 mg, Car­bo­hy­drate: 62 g (43 g sugar), Di­etary Fiber: 2 g, Pro­tein: 4 g.—AP

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