So, I attempted to do some food styling this morning (don’t worry, this isn’t it!). I sourced some props along a Middle Eastern theme in an attempt to compliment the most wonderful box of Omani Medjool dates, given to me by a dear friend’s mom. Unfortunately, all my pictures were a flop – which may have had to do with the fact that I have come down with a cold and am viewing the world through a fuzzy haze of antibiotics and cough syrup. I really do need to invest in a tripod soon – as some of those photographs were such a blur, you’d get dizzy just looking at them. The pictures may have been a huge fail, but I am pleased to say, the cake was not – and it is quite the perfect treat given the current cold spell we are having. The dates add a wonderful dense texture and sweetness to the cake and remind me of warmer weather.
I love dates, they are like nature’s caramel/toffee, and these particular dates have been sitting pride of place in my kitchen for sometime now, waiting for the best possible way to use them, and this cake was it! I’ve adapted this recipe from one I found in a Tamasin Day-Lewis cookbook. It is a cross between a cake/sponge and a dessert and could be served either way. It has a delicious, soft and sticky crumb, perfumed with coffee – and needs nothing more than a large dollop of cream to serve…preferably double thick.
Decadent date and coffee sponge with a coffee glaze
Serves 8 – 10
1 tbsp freshly ground coffee ( I used Starbucks instant Columbia blend – but if you are in the mood to brew, please do! )
5 tbsp boiling water
2 free-range xl eggs
180g brown sugar
200g plain flour
2 level tsp baking powder
125ml (1/2 cup) full cream milk ( I only had 2% in the house and so I used half milk and half cream)
160-200g pitted dates, chopped into quarters
For the glaze
120g icing sugar
20g butter, melted and still hot
2 tbsp strong coffee (from above)
2-3 tsp boiling water, if needed
Preheat the oven to 150C and spray a square baking tin with non-stick spray. Melt the butter in a small pan and set aside. Make the coffee with the boiling water, strain (if using filter coffee), and set aside 2 tbsp to be used later in the glaze.
Whisk the eggs and sugar using an electric mixer, until thick and creamy. Add the flour, baking powder, melted butter, milk and 3 tbsp of the coffee. When combined, add the dates and fold in by hand with a metal spoon. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and make sure the dates are evenly distributed.
Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Place the tin on a wire rack to cool the cake slightly while you make the glaze.
For the glaze, tip the icing sugar into a bowl and give it a quick whisk to get rid of any lumps. Melt the butter, and while it is till hot, pour onto the icing sugar, followed by the reserved 2 tbsp of coffee. Stir until smooth. The consistency should be thick, so you know the glaze will set as it cools. If it seems too thick, add 2-3 tsp of boiling water to thin.
Pour the glaze over the cake in the tin and smooth gently. There will be just enough to cover the cake; this is not a thick icing.
Serve as dessert or for tea with lashings of double thick cream. Prepare to swoon.