Date Cake

It has been far too long between posts.  Now that I am well settled in my new home and have retired permanently from my teaching, I have decided to post a recipe a month on this site as well as anything else I find topical.

The month of Ramadan started a few days ago and since dates figure prominently in the breaking of the fast each evening, I have decided to post this date cake which contains both dates and walnuts and plenty of butter which keeps it moist for days.

Looking forward to your comments.  Enjoy!


date cake (1 of 1)

Date Cake recipe    

1 cup pitted dates (soaked in 1 cup hot water with 1 tsp. bicarb. overnight)
250 gm butter
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 cup chopped walnuts
2 cups SR flour

Cream the butter and sugar.  Beat in the eggs and stir in the dates with their soaking water and the chopped walnuts.  Fold in the flour and pour into a well greased ring tin.

Bake in a moderate oven 45 mins.

Icing

1  cup icing sugar
1 tsp. coffee
1 dessert spoon cocoa
few drops vanilla essence
milk

Blend the dry ingredients with the coffee and vanilla essence adding just enough milk to make a smooth icing.  Ice the cooled cake and decorate with walnut halves.

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Date Harvest Morocco

I am missing the beauty of the date harvest in Morocco this year. The colours must be seen to be believed and are so stunningly captured by the French artist Jacques Majorelle in his 1921 portrayal of the Date Market in Marrakech, one of the few paintings I truly lust after.

(Image from Les Orientalistes, Jacques Majorelle, by Felix Marcilhac ACR Edition Internationale 1988,1995)

The oases of the great river valleys in Southern Morocco, the Draa, Dades and Ziz, stretch for miles and are the main livelihood of the local inhabitants.  The succulent medjool date  (medjhoul in Moroccan Arabic) originated in Morocco and is also now widely cultivated in California and the Jordan Valley – our main source of this delectable fruit.

Dates are native to the Middle East and were spread by the Arabs to North Africa and Spain. They are mentioned in the Bible and constituted one of the seven species so important to human survival and ritual, alongside wheat, barley, the olive, pomegranate, fig and grape.”For the LORD thy God bringeth thee into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths, springing forth in valleys and hills; a land of wheat and barley, and (grape) vines and fig-trees and pomegranates; a land of olive-trees and (date) honey;” (Deuteronomy 8:7-8)

In 2005 seeds of the Judean date, a cultivar extinct for almost 2000 years, were found by Israeli archaeologists on the site of Herod’s palace on the fortress of Masada. Scientists at the Arava Institute in the Negev managed to germinate one of the seeds and the resulting plant, named Methusaleh after the oldest man mentioned in the Bible, is now about two metres tall.

Following an ancient Arab Tradition, La Maison Bleue in Fes offers arriving guests dates  filled with roasted almonds together with a bowl of orange blossom scented milk.  This sets the scene for the peaceful, fragrant stay in this haven of luxury in the ancient medina of Fes.

Dates are the first food consumed to break the fast each evening during the month of Ramadan and are the traditional accompaniment to Harira soup,  served at the traditional Ramadan Ftour or breakfast.

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