or Kaikat al Khaleej
I love the flavours used in Middle East desserts and sweets, so was quite confident of finding something to make for the Bahrain round of Formula 1 Foods, the new blog challenge from Caroline, at Caroline Makes. The idea is to follow the Grand Prix racing season and cook something inspired by the country in which each race is held.
However, on this great blog about Middle Eastern food, called Ya Salam Cooking, I found a recipe for a baked date cake in the Bahraini section. I'm not sure how authentic it is - it may be that the author is just combining Middle Eastern flavours with a Western style of cooking, but I found a few similar recipes, often called Arabic Date Cakes, on Google. That was good enough for me!
I followed the recipe almost exactly; the only difference was the amount of water I used. By the time I'd added 150mls of water I already had a batter with a soft dropping consistency. At this point I was worried that a sloppier batter wouldn't cook properly, or support the chopped dates, so decided not to add any more water. My loaf took quite a bit longer to cook than the recipe suggested, but the picture with the recipe suggests a much larger 'loaf' tin was used, as the cake looks much shallower than the one I produced in a 2lb loaf tin.
As the recipe only used 1 egg, a relatively small proportion of butter and only water to mix the batter, I wasn't sure how well it would turn out. I needn't have worried - it was light and moist, with a close crumb. The chewy, sweet dates, which stayed soft, made the cake seem rich to eat, and the rosewater and cardamom added fragrant and spicy notes. I really love the flavour of rose in cakes and desserts but even small quantities can be quite strong, so use with caution! The only thing I wasn't sure about was the saffron - it didn't seem to add anything to either the colour or the flavour of this cake (and my saffron was new, so I can't blame old stock that had lost it's quality). As it's so expensive, I don't think I'd use it, if I made this cake again.