This recipe belongs to my husband’s grandmother, and was passed onto me by one of her granddaughters. I love its cloying sweetness and easy-to-makeness so much, that I have made it thrice in the last 10 days! Thankfully, no one’s complaining 🙂
1 cup Whole wheat flour* (the original recipe uses Maida)
1 cup Jaggery – powdered (or powdered sugar)
1 cup Dates, de-seeded (I use a brand called Kimia, which are from Iran, and are very soft and juicy and are easily available in most department stores)
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 Eggs (at room temperature)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup walnuts or almonds (broken)
1/4 tsp salt (which I avoid if I use salted butter)
* Whole wheat is going to make this cake nice and wholesome (hence the ‘heartiness’). I like that, but if you don’t, then, like a friend said, Maida is King.
1. Sieve the flour with 1/4 tsp salt. I do this twice.
2. Soak the dates in boiling water for about half an hour (add 1/2 tsp baking soda to the water as this will help the cake rise).
3. If full walnuts are used, crush within a folded newspaper with a rolling-pin.
Heat oven to 175 c for 10 minutes. Beat the eggs gently and add the butter. Add the vanilla, add the dates, add the flour, add the jaggery. Mix well. Add the nuts. Mix. Pour into a greased and dusted baking tray and bake for 40 minutes. Stick a toothpick in. If it comes out clean, you’re done. Let the cake cool in the oven for 10-15 minutes (with the door open), so that there is no sudden change in temperature. Cool on a wire rack for another 10 minutes (not longer) so that it cools equally on all sides. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream. Or bite into a warm, moist piece of goodness, and go straight to heaven.
Just a little bit more…
Here are some tips that a friend who is a baking whizz, shared with me.
a. Baking soda reacts well with fruit, which is why some recipes call for it and not for baking powder. I learnt this the hard way. I forgot to soak the dates with the baking soda and used baking powder mixed into the flour instead; as if on cue, the cake didn’t rise as much.
b. Beating flour (maida) too vigorously releases gluten which causes the cake to become lumpy; hence recipes instruct you to ‘fold’ the flour in. However, as I have been using whole wheat flour so far (and have been obliviously whipping the batter into submission), this hasn’t happened. Yet. Will keep you posted.