Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Date Honey Cake

Oh I do love honey. I love bamboo honey, apple locust honey, goldenrod honey, coffee honey (get this if you can find it), manuka honey, and the very dark honey of some unidentified wildflowers I found in Little Falls New York on a bicycle journey this summer. I am also intemperate in my fondness for Lyle's Golden Syrup, and of course all respect is due as well to maple syrup, rice syrup, barley malt, agave, and any number of other sticky substances I have yet to try, but as it happens none of these are the subject of most Tanakhic references to honey.  The honey with which the Holy Land is flowing is not bee honey at all, but date syrup, or silan, a darkly scented, antioxidant-rich ingredient you need to know.

The date honey cake I made this year is a variation on my previous honey cakes (see Classic Honey Cake, Chocolate Honey Cake, and Pomegranate Honey Cake), and also owes some lineage to Judeo-Arabic date cakes, and of course, to English sticky pudding.  I used un-pitted dates because many folks think they are more flavorful, and anyway, I bought them by accident.  Pitting the dates was not at all difficult after they had softened up by soaking in tea or Guinness.

This is not really a carrot cake, but I added some carrots because dates love carrots.  I used sunflower seed oil for the same reason, but any oil should be fine.

Date Honey Cake

8 ounces unpitted dates (or pitted dates, why not?)
1 cup hot tea or Guinness stout

1 cup (5 ounces) palm sugar
1 cup (7 ounces) white sugar
6 cups (24 ounces) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons cocoa powder

2 oranges, cores and seeds removed
1 1/2 cup sunflower oil
1 2/3 cups date syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/2 cup tahini

8 eggs

3 Macintosh apples, grated (about 2 cups)
2 large carrots, grated (about 1 cup)
5 ounces crystalized ginger, chopped (about 3/4 cup)

Soak the dates in hot tea or stout.  When the dates are very soft, remove the stones and chop coarsely.  Reserve the liquid.

Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.

In a food processor, grind the oranges, peel and pulp together, and add oil, date syrup, vanilla and tahini.

Beat the eggs and add to the liquid ingredients.

Pour the orange-mixture into the flour mixture and begin folding gently together.  Add the grated apples and carrots and chopped ginger and dates and enough of the remaining date-liquid (about half) to make a loose batter.

Pour and scrape the batter into prepared loaf-pans and/or cake pans. Bake 15 minutes at 400, 15 minutes at 375, and 15 minutes at 350. The cakes are done when a tester comes out clean and they offer mild resistance to a touch.

This recipe yielded five medium loaves and one tiny little loaf  (I was inspired to start making things into tiny little loaves by my recent visits to Claire's Corner Copia, a vegetarian restaurant and cult phenomenon in New Haven).

A sweet and healthy year to all In Mol Araan.

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Blogger Unknown said...

Oy! Dates are all soft in Israel and never need soaking in order to pit or use. It is strange to discover that in the US the dates are so dry and hard that they require soaking before use. Come to Israel and try many foods as well as the different varieties of dates here!

2:19 PM  
Blogger the chocolate doctor מרת שאקאלאד said...

The dates are not so terribly dry and hard, I just wanted them to be extra succulent!

6:19 PM  

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