Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Tamarind Date Cake

I love Dan Lepard's baking recipes from the Guardian newspaper, but it's not often I get the happy coincidence of him writing a recipe for something the Chief Tester will eat and having all the ingredients in stock, so that I can make it almost before the ink has dried on the newspaper. That came about last weekend (if we don't count using pecans instead of walnuts) with this recipe for a cake packed with dates and walnuts (or pecans) and flavoured with tamarind paste and dark brown sugar.

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.

15 comments:

Beth (Jam and Clotted Cream) said...

I saw this on the Guardian website yesterday

Hilary said...

The tamarind is very intriguing, I've never had that in baking before. I might try this one - thanks for your suggestions for tweaking the recipe.

Maria♥ said...

Wow tamarind in a cake, definitely something different but interesting.

Maria
x

C said...

Ooooh, you've beaten me to it! I really fancied the look of that cake and was debating if I should add more fruit (e.g. raisins) instead of the nuts, or whether to just leave them out. I still really want to make it though - love cakes made in pans (I'm such a lazy washer-upper!). Thanks for the warning about mixture volume, I'll bear that in mind when I get round to it!

Suelle said...

C - I'd just leave out the nuts. If you add more fruit it will absorb liquid as the cake cooks and affect the final texture of the cake.

Celia @ Fig Jam and Lime Cordial said...

Wow, a tamarind cake! I've traditionally only ever used that in curries...time for a rethink! :) Thanks Suelle..

Choclette said...

This sounds most intriguing Suelle - I've never used Tamarind in baking but am now keen to try. Looks like a delicious slice waiting to be eaten there.

Lucie said...

This looks very moist and tasty, very unusual too Suelle. Lucie x

mangocheeks said...

I am well acquainted with the taste of tamarind, but in a cake. Wow. Looks deep, dark and delicious. Would love to try a piece!

Foodycat said...

I'm so pleased you made this! When I saw it in the paper last week I was fascinated!

Suelle said...

Hi, Foodycat - are you going to try it? It's quite a big cake for just two of you to get through, but if you needed something for larger numbers I'd certainly recommend it.

zebbakes said...

You're right, it's a big cake. But really good! And thanks for the tin size discussion, it helped me when I came to make it!

Anonymous said...

wer can i buy this kind of tamarind cake?
i just want to taste it!^^

Suelle said...

I don't think you can buy it, anonymous - you'll have to try the recipe.

sparklydatepalm said...

I love this cake, although I leave out the nuts completely and often skip the icing. I agree that the cake is best left for a little while before eating - it has been a bit hit at home, work and on picnics.