The recipe itself was plain sailing, even if the method was a little unusual; cakes mixed in a saucepan have the added bonus of reducing the washing up load, which can be considerable after a typical baking session. My only concern was what exactly was meant by Tamarind Paste - the commercial pastes on the market can vary in strength and often have salt and sugar added, so I decided to make a paste from a block of pulp. I weighed 50g of pulp and added 100mls of boiling water. After stirring frequently during cooling to separate out all the fibres and seeds, I passed the mixture through a seive and weighed out 50g of the resulting paste.
My only real problem was the cake tin. When Dan says deep he means really deep! My 18cm (7") tin was 7cm deep but wouldn't take all the batter, so I had to hurriedly line a 20cm tin and transfer over the cake mixture. Even then the batter came to within an inch of the top, so I was anxiously watching it rise in the oven and expecting an overflow (which happily didn't come).
When cut within a few hours of baking the cake was very crumbly, which was a big concern, but it had firmed up a lot by the next day. I'd really recommend leaving the cake a day before even attempting to cut it.
The cake crumb itself was surprisingly light, but managed to hold all the dates and nuts in an even distribution throughout. The flavour of tamarind didn't come through as strongly as I'd expected; I've bake with tamarind before and it's given a lemony note to the cake which wasn't evident here. Here the tamarind seems to counterbalance the sweetness, making the addition of a glacé icing a lovely contrast, not a sickly, unnecessary extra. I didn't think the cardamom in the icing added much to the flavour either, but my pods may have been a little too old! However, the cake was still well flavoured, moist and so much lighter than many similar fruit and nut cakes; I'm sure I'll be making this one again!
After this recipe was published on Dan Lepard's web-site, with a photograph, I've realised that he intended it to be made in a square tin. An 18cm square tin is equivalent in volume to the 20cm round tin which I eventually I used (guided by the photo in the Guardian), so there's no problem with the quantities of ingredients given in the recipe.