Spicy Date Bread – Cake Call it date bread.. or cake.. or loaf.. it’s a spongy, moist and decadent mixture of total bliss crammed into a piece of heavenly bite. It’s a mild indulgent delicacy, leaving you with enough satisfaction, yet not overbearingly sweet.
A note to self.. Just be careful not to over-eat this beauty and make sure you have plenty of friends or family around to share it with.. Don’t even attempt to freeze it, as it will call out to you regardless of the time of day.. Knowing it’s only 20 seconds away to complete perfection.. by the devilish device called microwave.. well.. that’s my weakness.. We all have one!
I came across this recipe over a decade ago, browsing through Everyday, by Bill Granger in a local library. It’s got dates, lots of dates, and that I had plenty of. At the time, I was unwilling to even attempt the butterscotch sauce recipe that came with it (sticky toffee pudding), and am glad I didn’t. I generally can only manage a few bites of overly sweet puddings, and only large gulps of tea or hot water can neutralise the tingling sensation it leaves behind in my throat. I’ve tweaked the recipe many times, and of-course added the jewels of spice to liven it up, perfecting it without the need for additional sauce. Just a cup of tea or any hot drink and you’re set. Spicy Date Bread/Cake/Loaf – inspired by Everyday
Note: the original recipe calls for 170g (3/4 cup ) sugar for every 185g (1 1/2 cups) flour, with only the addition of vanilla extract as a flavour enhancer. I have added cinnamon and cardamom, significantly reduced the sugar, and used wholemeal spelt or kamut with great success. Eliminating the sugar completely would give you bread/loaf, and the addition of sugar gives you cake. The addition of walnuts or pecans are also wonderful. So here are my tweaks..
Ingredients – serves a large crowd!
- 450g / 15oz / 2 1/2 packed cups, pitted dates, chopped
- 375 ml, 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 1/2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
- 90g / 3 1/2 oz unsalted butter (or coconut oil), diced
- 150g / 5 oz / 1/2 cup dark muscavado sugar,(or any sugar you have on hand)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, or one small scrape of vanilla seeds from pod
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 – 1 teaspoon ground green cardamom
- 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 270 g / 9 1/2 oz / 2 1/4 cups spelt flour (or plain flour) – If using self-raising flour, skip the addition baking powder and salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- pinch of fine sea salt
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas4). Butter a 25cm round hollow tin or a standard loaf tin and set aside. Add the dates and water to a pan, and cook on a low heat, stirring occasionally. Cook until the dates are soft, about 10 minutes, and almost all the water has been absorbed. Remove from the heat adding the bicarbonate of soda and butter. It will fizz slightly at this stage, turning slightly lighter in colour – beautiful to watch. Transfer to a large mixing dish and leave to cool.
In separate bowl gently whisk the flour of your choice with baking powder and salt to incorporate some air. As mentioned above, don’t add baking powder to self-raising flour. Once cool enough to handle (and not that hot to crumble the eggs!), add the sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, cardamom and eggs, stirring well. Fold in the flour and gently fold until combined. Do not over-mix. Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake-tin and bake for 50 minutes. This time should be enough for a hollow tin, but may need 5-10 minutes more for a loaf tin. You need the skewer to come out clean.
Once done, leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool. The cake keeps well in an airtight container for 2-3 days, and also freezes extremely well if you have the willpower to resist the temptation!
I really hope you enjoy this as much as I, my family and friends do.