Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Date Cake with Orange Blossom Ice Cream and Fig Topping

Our fridge was packed to its capacity with dates from my parents' trip to Tunisia a couple of weeks ago. We ate a lot while still fresh but there were still two kilos of them left. And honestly, we had more than enough. We couldn't even think of eating one more date unless it was transformed into something more appealing. It's not that dates are not appealing but after devouring a certain quantity you really won't want to see them any more.

So when I found the recipe for this cake I thought it's the ideal opportunity to get rid of some of the dates and set free some place in the fridge. And I knew exactly what to pair it with.

Six years ago we were in Tunisia with my sister. Ivan had a lot of work and couldn't take a leave, so unfortunately he didn't manage to come with me, but there was my sister to replace him. For seven days there we spent half of our money for orange juice. We were drinking it all the time. Often we were taking double juices which were served in huge glasses. No ice added in order not to water down the divine nectar full of sunny light and summer spirit. Sometimes the cleanliness of the glasses was questionable but who cares. As long as they were filled with the golden liquid we were the happiest girls in the world.

This is why I wanted an orange related pairing for the cake. And the orange blossoms water came in handy here for making an ice cream. Thus the dessert was fully packed with seductive tunisian memories.

And the fig topping – I've made it on another occasion, but it happened to match very well here.

Date Cake Recipe:
Adapted from Evan's Kitchen Ramblings Makes 20 cm round cake
  • 200 gr pitted and chopped dates;
  • 300 ml water;
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda;
  • 60 gr butter, at room temperature;
  • 90 gr sugar;
  • 2 eggs;
  • 100 gr all purpose flour;
  • 50 gr rice flour;
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder.
In a saucepan bring the water and the dates to a boil, then add bicarbonate of soda and stir. It'll start to bubble since the bicarbonate of soda is an alkali and neutralize the acids of the dates. Remove from heat. Let cool then blend until smooth.

Preheat the oven to 180º C. Grease and line with paper a 20cm round cake pan.

Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs and beat well. Fold in the flours, baking powder and the date puree until just combined.

Pour into the prepared pan and bake for about 30 minutes.

Notes: the cake here isn't as sticky as in Evan's recipe, but we aren't great fans of sticky cakes, so I baked it for a little more time – around 40 - 45 minutes. 

Orange Blossom Ice cream Recipe:
  • 300 gr whole milk;
  • 4 egg yolks;
  • 120 gr sugar;
  • 8 gr orange blossoms water;
  • 260 gr heavy cream.
In a sauce pan bring the milk to a simmer.

In a large bowl beat the yolks and sugar until light and fluffy. Pour a small part of the hot milk over the yolks to temper, then pour over the rest of the milk. Whisk well.

Cook over medium-low heat till the mixture reaches 85º C. (If making without a thermometer – the mixture should be thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon and the foamy layer on top should disappear). Remove from heat and let cool then add the orange blossoms water and mix well.

Whip the cream and add to the custard. Mix well with a spoon. Place in the freezer to set.

Notes: We are making the ice cream without an ice cream machine, so adding whipped cream at the end makes it more airy and fluffier.

Fig Topping Recipe:
  • 300 gr small figs;
  • 125 gr sugar;
  • 25 ml water;
  • juice of half lemon.
Combine the sugar and the water in a saucepan over medium heat. As soon as the sugar is liquefied and dissolved add the figs. If the figs are not very small, cut them in quarters. Let simmer for half an hour. Skim if any foam floats on top. Add the lemon juice and simmer for additional 5 minutes.

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