Time to tell you about my favourite recipe book ... Rose's Heavenly Cakes. If you don't have it, go and get it. It's written by Rose Levy Beranbaum who also wrote The Cake Bible. While the cake bible is a wonderfully fantastic book, I prefer Heavenly Cakes just because it has pictures of all the recipes :-) What can I say, I'm a visual person.
This recipe is one (of many wonderful ones) from this book.
Okay, I'll admit, this is something that would be perfect on a cold winter's night, but I so rarely have dates in the house that I got super excited and just had to make it. And let me tell ya, it's DELICIOUS. Moist spiced cake with a healthy dose of gooey caramel sauce and a dollop of whipped cream (or heck, go all the way and add ice cream!) ... I fell in love. It also gave me a reason to finally bust open that jar of whole nutmeg spice that I bought from William Sonoma a month ago.
1 cup Guinness (or any other stout beer)
1 tsp Baking soda
170gm large pitted dates (make sure to weigh this one, it was about 8 dates for me)
6 Tbsp unsalted butter at room temperature
225 gm sugar (1 cup plus 2 Tbsp)
2 tsp pure vanilla extract (I used vanilla bean paste cause I love it)
3 large eggs, at room temperature
228g all-purpose flour (about 2 cups not packed down)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg (I used whole nutmeg and grated about 1/2 tsp into the bowl)
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 Tbsp lemon juice (optional)
pinch of salt
Prepare the dates:
- Put Guinness in a saucepan and bring it to a boil
- Turn the the heat off and add the baking soda (it will bubble up a lot) then add the dates
- Let the mixture sit until it comes to room temperature
- When cool, put mixture into a food processor or blender and blend until smooth
- Remove and put into a bowl - cover until you're ready to use it
Make the cake:
- Add the butter, sugar, and vanilla to the bowl of your stand mixer. Mix on medium speed (with the paddle attachment) until light and fluffy
- Add the eggs one at a time, make sure you scrape down the bowl between each egg addition
- In a medium bowl, add the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Whisk together.
- Add a 1/3 of the flour mixture to your butter/sugar and mix just until incorporated
- Add half the date mixture and mix just until incorporated
- Repeat with another 1/3 of the flour mixture, then half the date mixture, and finish with the flour mixture. Each time mixing just until incorporated and scraping the bowl down in between additions.
- Scoop batter into a prepared 9x13" pan (I just lined mine with parchment paper, but you can also butter and flour the pan if you'd like)
Bake the cake:
- Bake for 15 minutes, rotate the pan, and then bake for another 10-15 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean when inserted. The cake should spring back when pressed lightly in the centre.
- While the cake is baking, you can make the toffee sauce
- Let cool for 10 minutes once it's done. This is best served warm, so either serve immediately or warm it up before serving.
Make toffee sauce:
- In a small saucepan, add the butter and the sugar. Using medium heat, bring mixture to a boil and then turn off the heat (you don't want to burn the sugar, you just want it to be completely melted)
- Stir in the heavy cream, salt, and lemon (if you're using it). While the lemon did go well with the cake, I think I preferred the sauce without the lemon. It is entirely up to you.
- Cut pieces of cake
- pour on toffee sauce
- top with a dollop of whipped cream (or ice cream)
- sprinkle with toasted nuts such as walnuts or pecans