Monday, October 8, 2012

Dream Birthday Date

Only now do I realise how odd that middle candle looks... to justify my choice of candle arrangement: candles above the "Happy Birthday" sign are in the 'tens' column, the random lone candle is in the 'ones' column! 
I write this smiling at the memory of the grins on my friends’ faces as I presented them with a  plastic takeaway container holding six slices of cake at uni this morning. It is one of the things I love most about my group of close friends: they appreciate the little things in life. Sure, we get caught up in the hype surrounding the release of a new piece of technology, we wish we had this, we wish we had that… but in the end, it’s the newest episode of Downton Abbey or a gift of free food that makes life worth living for us as second year university students.

This cake was made to belatedly celebrate Mum’s birthday upon her return from a school trip to Japan and the recipe comes from… My New Roots. So I only really adapt recipes from a grand total of three blogs. Yes, I am adventurous. Yes, you are probably better off simply reading the original sources because let’s face it – their photos are awesome!! By the time I made this cake, I had the normal compact camera back so no longer had to rely on my phone camera but Dad took the photos... so that’s probably just as bad ;-) The original cake is tinged with the flavour of oranges and uses apple sauce but the lack of such ingredients in our house resulted in the outcome being more of a banana date cake. However I loooove banana cake (who doesn’t) so didn’t mind in the slightest.

Mum insisted she looks old and ugly in this photo so I'm not allowed to show anyone.... but Pond looks cute so I had to stick it in!

Sarah B from My New Roots starts her post on this cake with the following:
“What dream indeed…wheat free, dairy free, sugar free! Does it actually taste good?! Well, you know it wouldn’t be here if it didn’t. You can have your cake and eat it too.
Mmmm. She had me hooked from the title and the first photo – no need to promote the relative healthiness of this cake when compared to others out there! I needed no further encouragement.

Dream Date Banana Cake (adapted from My New Roots)


2 ¼ cups soft, fresh dates (soaked overnight if necessary)
1 ½ cups raw almonds, (plus more for garnish)
5 Tbsp coconut oil
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
Generous pinch of salt
Pinch of pepper
1 packed cup mashed banana
2 organic, free-range eggs


1. Preheat oven to 160C.
2. Prepare an 8” round or spring form cake pan. 
3. Put all ingredients apart from the mashed banana and eggs in a food processor and blend until rather uniform, leaving some almond chunks in the mixture.
4. Slowly add the mashed banana (~quarter cup at a time) while the blender is running. Add the two eggs in the same manner as the banana, one at a time. Add applesauce slowly, ¼ cup at a time while blender is running.
5. Pour batter into the prepared pan and spread until even.
6. Bake for 40-45 minutes until a knife inserted comes out clean. 
7. Let cake cool completely before removing it from the pan, chop up some extra almonds and scatter them on top (which I didn’t do because I’m lazy). Serve. And eat.

My family cut 13 slices out of this cake, which is part of the reason I was willing to give some away – usually Dad and I simply eat the maximum total of six gigantor slices ourselves. Our usual strategy of eat-a-cake-in-one-sitting failed on this occasion due to this one’s rich nature. It is super dense and super moist and, as the original recipe warns, nearly like a pudding. It was a weird concept to not have a huge chunk of sweet stuff on my plate but a small slice really does go a long way… not only is it filling, it is satisfying and heart-warming, particularly if eaten accompanied by a cup of Earl Grey tea. 

- Matilda

P.S. I wrote the directions for the making of the cake in the order in which they were intended. However… I must admit, I did the unthinkable… I broke one of the two MOST important rules* of baking: follow the order of instructions (the other being put the exact amount of ingredients in as the recipe instructs). I felt absolutely terrible for doing so but my poor food processor simply couldn’t handle the load! So instead I took three quarters of the mixture produced in step 3 out of the food processor and then proceeded to step 4. After adding the banana and the eggs, I slowly added the date and almond paste back in. The baking gods must have been feeling kind that day though, for they allowed my cake to turn out fine nonetheless.

* Whovians out there will know that these are not in fact the most important rules… Rule number one: the Doctor lies. Hope all of you lovelies have gotten over the Ponds’ heartbreaking send-off xx 

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