Over time, classics became mingled with Indian spices and ingredients like cardamom, cinnamon and dates — as in this cake.
The dates add a lot of moisture, density and a caramel flavor to the sponge and the spices add sweetness and exoticism. Strictly speaking, the icing is unnecessary — a dusting of icing sugar would do — but the coffee butter icing gives it a special celebratory feel, which is, partly what baking is really all about.
Soft dates are best for this cake as they’ll add to the moisture.
Start to finish: 1 hour 15 minutes (30 minutes active time)
For the cake:
1 stick butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
1 1/4 cups dates, pitted
¾ cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking powder
A pinch of salt
For the frosting:
6 tablespoons butter, softened
1 1/4 cups powder sugar
1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
1 tablespoon boiling water
Chop the dates and place them in a saucepan. Add 1 cup of water to the pan and bring to the boil over a low heat, In a mixing bowl, add the butter and sugar, cream together, then add the eggs, mixing in one by one. Fold in the flour, baking powder, salt and spices and when folded, add the date mixture and mix well. Pour the batter into the loaf tin and place in the center of the oven for 45 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Leave the cake in the tin to cool before removing. To make the frosting, mix the coffee granules with a tablespoon of boiling water (no more or you’ll have wet frosting until the granules dissolve. Add the butter and sugar and whisk until soft and creamy.