Dan Lepard, whose recipe from the Guardian this is, unashamedly calls it ‘The best date cake in the world ever’, and equally unashamedly, as someone who bakes and eats it quite frequently, I would agree wholeheartedly. It is extremely delicious and very easy to make.
I can see imaginary obstacles to trying the recipe popping up all over the place. Cardomom icing? It’s lovely but I don’t usually bother although i have tried cardomom in the cake with very pleasing results. What on earth is tamarind? Well I didn’t know, still don’t really, but one can buy little bottles of the slightly salty lemony paste from Waitrose although not our local Sainsbury’s (bigger branches might). BBC Food describes it as ‘A tart fruit from the tamarind tree, used as a spice and souring agent’. Funnily enough I soaked the dates and tamarind paste and water overnight so that it would be all ready for this morning’s bake. John, not knowing what it was, reported to me that there was a really delicious warm spicy smell in the kitchen when he got up in the morning. He reckoned one could sell the scent, maybe for food shops to waft around on the hour like bakeries and coffee shops are meant to do with appropriately scented packaged food and coffee ‘odours’!
I looked up tamarind in Wikipedia and discovered all sorts of interesting facts; I began to feel that perhaps we ought all start eating it quite seriously. Tamarind is high in acid, sugar, B vitamins and, oddly for a fruit, calcium; it is used in Ayurvedic medicine for gastric and/or digestion problems, and in cardioprotective activity… Anyway, it tastes nice and today’s cake is all but finished already. Our two ‘boiler men’ who today removed the offending boiler from Douglas’s Barn found numerous hunks of cake helped them enormously, and the rest of us have done pretty well too. I had quietly removed our guests’ portion – seen in the photo -just to ensue I didn’t suddenly find I had to get baking again. Next Friday is soon enough…although having said that, I suddenly realised that our hungry boiler-saviour men will be here again at 8 in the morning. We are so grateful to them for rallying around so quickly when disaster struck on Friday and if it means making more cake tonight, I’ll happily do it.
Douglas’s Barn is available to book for short breaks 3 or 4 nights between 2 and 20 May 2016. Bookings usually start on a Monday or a Friday but if you want a break that starts on a different day get in touch. We are very flexible with bookings.
There are some new attractions added to the list of treats available with the Premier Cottages special privileges card. Amongst them are Renishaw Hall, Thornbridge Hall Gardens (new discounts), Hassop Station Cafe, Village Green Cafe Eyam, Carsington Water Sports and Leisure, Hartington Cheese Shop.
There are still a few free dates at the end of March/April in both Tom’s and Douglas’s Barns. Short breaks, 3 or 4 nights, which are not normally available are on offer. Please look at availability and give me a call or book on line.