This is the second time I have made this cake in as many weeks. The first was a way to cope with being back at work after a long, summer break. A touch of sweetness as we attempted to clear a backlog of emails; nudge oneself back into focus every so often and remember what our passwords were. Yes, the return to work needs a gentle ease-in, no hard or stupid questions please, my withering look is not on leave now either. Good thing there are a few public holidays to shorten our first few weeks.
It’s worth buying the more expensive Medjool dates for this cake for they are softer and lusher. I used half Medjool and half packaged pitted dates both times.
I left the cake un-iced on both occasions. The original recipe uses a cream cheese icing or suggested a lemon icing but I found it worked well enough without either and first day back at work, there was no time to make icing of any sort. It was hard enough just getting my act together to get out the door on time.
First time around I was pretty amazed when Bill handed me a slice on which he'd lathered a dollop of coconut yoghurt on top. It was truly a winning combination with the coconut totally complementing and enhancing the dates and spiciness of the cake.
For this one, I've used coconut yoghurt and swirled in some homemade lemon curd (recipe here). Except in today’s heat the swirl spun out of control and merged into the yoghurt during the photo shoot (temperamental model I'd say).
The recipe comes from Catherine Bell in the wonderful A Treasury of New Zealand Baking. The yoghurt I used was Coconuts from The Collective (and yes, there is an extra "s" in their naming of the yoghurt).
Date Cake with Lemon Curd & Coconut Yoghurt
250g pitted dates, chopped
1 teaspoon baking soda
125ml boiling water
110g butter, softened
110g caster sugar
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
150g standard flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon mixed spice
Put the dates and baking soda in a small bowl, pour in the boiling water and mix together briefly with a spoon. Leave for 30 minutes to cool.
Preheat oven to 150°C. Grease and line a 20cm round or square cake tin with baking paper.
In a cake mixer, cream the butter, sugar and lemon zest together until pale and creamy. Add the egg and beat well.
Sift the flour, baking powder and mixed spice into a bowl ensuring well combined. Add half of this dry mix, along with half of the date mix to the creamed ingredients. Fold in gently until combined and repeat with the remainder.
Place the mix into the prepared tin and bake for approximately 45 minutes – test the centre with a skewer which should come out clean.
Cool in the tin for 5 minutes then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.
Serve with the lemon curd & coconut yoghurt below or top with a lemon icing.
Lemon Curd & Coconut Yoghurt
For each slice of cake, mix 2 tablespoons of coconut yoghurt with ½ tablespoon of lemon curd swirled in. Garnish with lemon zest and serve either on the plate or in a little dish beside the cake.