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.