Though I love pumpkin pies and apple desserts but they are hardly a novelty by this time of the year. The season is brimming with all sorts of luscious winter fresh and dried fruits, nuts and warm spices, which make it easier to mix things up and create something different to wow your guests and tastes equally delicious on the dessert table.
I almost always keep a bag of dates in my pantry. Dates are great energy boosters as they contain natural sugars like glucose, sucrose and fructose. Also I love to add them to different recipes…the sticky, gooey, sweet flesh contrasts well even with savoury dishes like Pulao but my most favourite is the very easy to make and deliciously moist date cake.
The texture of this cake is light and moist, the bitter-sweet-sour flavour of orange cuts through the rich sweetness of dates. And nothing rings the holiday bells like the zippy aroma of citrus.
For Dates Cake with Candied Orange Peel:
For Cake :
2/3 cup hot water
1 cup dates, pitted and chopped
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1+1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup brown sugar
A few drops vanilla essence
1/4 teaspoon salt
For Candied Orange Peel:
1 cup water
3-4 cup sugar
This Is What You Do :
Preheat oven to 175 degrees C. Pour hot water over dates in a mixing bowl, stir in 1/2 teaspoon baking soda. Leave the mixture for 5 minutes for dates to get soft and gooey. Add all the other ingredients and mix by hand for 3 minutes OR add to a food processor with a mixing blade and process briefly till everything is mixed. Pour into a lightly greased bundt cake pan with 4 cups capacity or 8×8 inch square. Bake about 30-35 minutes or till a wooden skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool for ten minutes.
While the cake is baking, let’s prepare our candied orange peel. Peel the orange flesh away and reserve for later use.
With a small, sharp-edged spoon, scrape the tough fibrous parts off of the inner peel, leaving a thin layer of white left behind on the peel.
Heat 1 cup water in a sauce pan, add orange peel, bring to a boil, drain and rinse with cold water. Repeat.
Add 1 cup water and 3/4 cup sugar to the same pan, cook till the sugar melts. Add orange peel and let simmer on low heat till the syrup thickens and coats all the peel. Remove from heat, strain the peel and gather the syrup in a bowl. Spread the peel on a baking sheet or lightly greased dish. Separate them so that they don’t stick to each other when dried.
Squeeze the orange juice from the reserved pulp into the sugar syrup, add a little water and simmer again till it thickens to a honey like consistency. Pour the syrup over the cake, sprinkle with candied orange peel.
Tip: for a shortcut, you can also cook orange marmalade with a little water to make a quick orange flavoured syrup to pour over the cake.
For a vegan cake, replace 2 eggs with 2 bananas or 2 tablespoons applesauce.