The California Medjool Date Cookbook

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the California

Medjool Date cookbook

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Contents

4 California Medjool Dates 9 Date Data 10 Cooking with Dates and Date

13

Paste

Start the Day Date Pancakes with Peaches and Date Paste Banana Berry Date Smoothies 18 Date, Pistachio and Cranberry Granola 20 Date, Walnut and Banana Bread 22 Carrot, Coconut and Date Muffins

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A Light Lunch 26 28 30 32 34

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Afternoon Treats 38 40 42 44 46

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Bacon and Goats’ Cheese-stuffed Dates Date and Pecan Cookies Caraway and Date Soda Bread Date and Stilton Sausage Rolls Chocolate Peanut Butter Dates

Evening Meals 50 52 54 56 58

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Slow-roasted Tomatoes and Dates on Ricotta Toast Roasted Carrot Salad with Date and Caper Dressing Pickled Date, Brie and Kale Toasted Sandwiches Falafel Bowls with Tahini-date Dressing Chicken, Date and Lime Burgers

Linguine with Date and Pistachio Pesto Miso-date Salmon with Sesame Slaw Harissa and Date Lamb Shanks Date and Almond Pilaf with Ras-el-hanout Chicken Sticky Date and Soy-braised Short Ribs

Sweet Things 62 64 66 68 70 72 74

Apple and Date Cinnamon Buns Marscarpone-stuffed Dates Gluten-free Date and Ginger Cake Vegan Date, Coconut and Cacao Brownies Steamed Sticky Toffee and Date Puddings Baklawa-stuffed Dates Coffee, Date and Walnut Cake

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California Medjool Dates Plump, juicy and fudgily sweet, the Medjool Date stands head and shoulders above its fellow dates. One of the oldest cultivated fruits, they have been prized by ancient and modern civilisations from Mesopotamia to Egypt. More recently, these luscious, caramelly fruits are also winning fans for their healthgiving properties. As dense with nutrition as they are with flavour, Medjool Dates are packed with dietary fibre, potassium, iron and antioxidants, not to mention the fact that they make a versatile natural sweetener that deserves pride of place in no end of cakes, bakes and even shakes. California’s Palm Springs may have entered the date game comparatively late when you think that the Iraqis were enjoying them as far back as 4000 BC, but what the region lacks in dategrowing history, it more than makes up for in the quality of its fruit. Date farmers first came to the area around the turn of the 20th century, with the first Medjool seeds imported from Morocco in the 1910s and 1920s. Today, the unique microclimate, the soft, sandy but incredibly fertile desert soil, and the plentiful water piped in from the Colorado River, unite to produce some of the finest dates in the world. Despite the idyllic conditions, ensuring each date is ready to harvest at its juiciest best remains a Iabour of love, with most of the work done by hand. Trees need to be de-thorned and handpollinated – pollen is collected from the male trees, which flower first, then dusted onto the females which coyly flower later.

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The fruits must be allowed to ripen fully on the palms, where the grape-like clusters are kept snug and safe from harm (and from predators) in soft muslin sacks. Each date starts off firm and yellow, before mellowing into that familiar glossy, deep-caramel colour as it ripens. Eaten straight from the tree, they are soft and succulent; later, they are dried to varying degrees, depending on the market they are being produced for. If your memories of dates are those chewy, dry fruits of childhood Christmases, it may have been because they were badly dried or even dried completely before being later rehydrated with steam, rendering them dark and almost brittle (although far easier to pack and transport). Those dry fruits of old are a far cry from the modern Medjool – resplendently fat and packed with elegant caramel flavours that work just as well as an after-dinner

words

Jessica Gunn

treat as they do a pre- or post-workout pick-me-up.

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Date Data Dates are packed with potassium, B6, niacin and fibre, plus they contain a small amount of iron and plenty of disease-fighting antioxidants.

Despite their relatively high sugar content, dates have a low glycemic load which means that, unlike refined sugars, they don’t cause a blood-sugar spike.

When baking, dates can act as a replacement for refined sugar and act as a binding agent.

Dates are mentioned more than 50 times in the Bible and 20 times in the Qur’an.

The word “date” comes from the Greek word daktylos, meaning “finger”.

Date palms need at least 100 days of over 37°C (99°f) heat and plenty of water to produce the best quality fruit.

Because the tree and its fruit have so many uses – from food to building materials – the date palm is known as the “tree of life” in the Middle East, and it is the national symbol of Saudi Arabia and Israel.

Fossil records show that the date palm has existed for at least 50 million years.

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Cooking with Dates It’s true that nothing beats eating juicy, caramel-like Medjool Dates just as they are – they make the perfect portable snack at all times of the day – but Medjool Dates are also wonderful used in cooking. Any time you want to add sweetness to a dish, try adding dates. Their natural sugars will do just as good a job as regular sugar, honey or maple syrup. They can be blended into breakfast smoothies, roasted with tomatoes to serve on toast, or thinly sliced into salads and slaws. When they are added to the base of soups and stews and allowed to cook slowly, they melt into the finished sauce bringing to it a lovely depth and subtle sweetness.

Date Paste

You can either chop pitted dates, add them to dishes whole, or make a date paste. This simple method of soaking and blending raw dates transforms them into a very useful everyday ingredient, though bear in mind it doesn’t have quite the assertive sweetness of other sugars so you may need to use a little bit more if you’re using it as a sugar substitute. It’s always worth having a jar of date paste in the fridge, not just for cooking, but also for spooning over pancakes, cakes or ice cream. You can sieve it or strain through muslin for a more syrupy consistency if you like.

makes about 400g (14oz) takes 35 mins 10 medjool dates

pitted and roughly chopped (150g/50oz prepared weight) 300ml (10 fl oz/ 1¼ cups) just-boiled water pinch of flaky sea salt

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squeeze of lemon juice

You can scale up this recipe to make a bigger batch: the basic ratio is double the amount of water to dates. 1 Place the chopped dates in a heatproof bowl, cover them with just-boiled water and set aside for 30 minutes. 2 Tip the dates and the soaking water into a blender and add the salt and lemon juice. Blitz until smooth.Transfer to an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to 1 week. It may thicken on chilling, so loosen with a little more water if desired.


Start the Day Date Pancakes with Peaches, Yogurt and Date Paste 14 Banana Berry Date Smoothies Date, Walnut and Banana Bread

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Date, Pistachio and Cranberry Granola Carrot, Coconut and Date Muffins

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Date Pancakes with Peaches,Yogurt and Date Paste serves 2 (makes 6-8 pancakes) takes 25 mins 150g (5oz/ 1¼ cups) self-raising flour pinch of fine sea salt 4 Medjool Dates

pitted and finely chopped 250ml (8½fl oz/ 1 cup) whole (full-fat) milk 1 medium egg 2 tbsp unsalted butter

melted, plus extra for frying

Use a sharp knife to chop the dates or, if they’re particularly sticky, use a clean pair of scissors to snip them into small chunks. 1 Put the flour and salt in a mixing bowl and toss in the dates, coating them in the flour and making sure they are well distributed. Beat the milk and egg together in a jug then, using a balloon whisk, whisk it into the flour. Avoid over-whisking it – it’s fine if the mixture is a little lumpy. Gently stir in the melted butter until combined. 2 Heat a large frying pan (skillet) over a medium-low heat. Add a little melted butter, then add 2–3 heaped tablespoons of the batter to make a pancake about 12cm (5in) in diameter (you should be able to fry 2–3 at a time, making 6–8 pancakes in total). Cook the pancakes for 2 minutes on each

To serve 3–4 tbsp Greek yogurt 1 peach

halved, stoned and sliced small handful pistachios

chopped

side, repeating until you have used all the batter and adding a little more butter to the pan when needed. 3 Serve the pancakes with yogurt, sliced peach, a sprinkle of chopped pistachios and the date paste spooned over.

3–4 tbsp date paste

(see page 11)

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Banana Berry Date Smoothies serves 2 takes 5 mins 1 banana

peeled and roughly chopped 100g (3½oz) mixed frozen berries 2 Medjool Dates

Using frozen berries makes the smoothie nice and cool. If you’re using fresh berries, add a couple of ice cubes to the blender.You can also double this recipe to serve more. 1 Place all the ingredients in a blender (ideally a high-speed one like a Vitamix or Nutribullet) and blitz until smooth. Pour into glasses and serve.

pitted and roughly chopped 10g (½oz) fresh root ginger

peeled and roughly chopped 4 mint leaves 250ml (8½fl oz/ 1 cup) oat milk, almond milk or water

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Date, Walnut and Banana Bread serves 8-10

takes 1 hour 15 mins

100g (3½oz) unsalted butter softened,

plus extra for greasing

75g (2½oz/ ⅓ cup) caster sugar (superfine) 5 Medjool Dates

This is great served for breakfast, spread with butter and sprinkled with a little flaky sea salt. Or eat it just as it is for an afternoon treat. 1 Preheat the oven to 150˚C fan/ 300˚F / gas mark 3, grease a 900g (2lb) loaf tin and line the base and sides with baking parchment. 2 Place the butter, sugar and chopped dates in a mixing bowl. Using electric beaters, beat them together for 2–3 minutes until light and combined.

pitted and roughly chopped 3 medium eggs 325g (11oz) mashed banana

(about 3 medium-large ripe bananas)

100g (3½oz) buttermilk 175g (6oz/scant 1½ cups) plain flour (all-purpose) ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)

3 Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then beat in the mashed banana followed by the buttermilk. Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl, then very briefly beat them into the mixture until just combined. Stir through the walnuts. 4 Tip the mixture into the prepared tin, level the top and bake for 1 hour until set – a skewer inserted into the centre of the bread should come out clean. Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely in the tin, then slice to serve.

1 tsp baking powder ½ tsp fine sea salt 75g (2½ oz/scant ¾ cup) chopped walnuts

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Date, Pistachio and Cranberry Granola makes 1.5kg (3lb 5oz) takes 1 hr 15 mins

6 medjool dates

pitted and roughly chopped 75 (2½oz) dried cranberries 50g (2oz/½ cup) whole skin-on almonds

roughly chopped

250g (9oz/2½ cups) jumbo oats

1 Preheat the oven to 130˚C fan/ 250˚F/ gas mark 2 and line a large baking tray with baking parchment. 2 Soak the chopped dates and cranberries in a heatproof bowl of just-boiled water while you prepare the other ingredients. 3 Combine the chopped almonds, oats, rye flakes, salt and seeds in a large mixing bowl. Put the coconut

50g (2oz) rye flakes

oil, date paste, maple syrup, cinnamon, vanilla and

½ tsp fine sea salt

add it to the pan, then heat until it just comes to a

50g (2oz) pumpkin seeds 25g (¾oz) chia seeds 5 tbsp coconut oil 100g (3½oz) date paste

(see p11)

2 tbsp maple syrup 1½ tsp ground cinnamon 1 tsp vanilla extract 5 tbsp water 100g (3½oz/⅔ cup) shelled pistachios, roughly chopped

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You can mix and match the nuts, seeds and dried fruit in this granola.Try substituting pecans for pistachios, dried cherries for cranberries and add sunflower seeds instead of pumpkin seeds.

water in a small saucepan. Drain the soaked fruit and simmer. Pour over the nut, oat and seed mixture and stir together well. 4 Spread the granola mixture out evenly over the parchment. Bake for 15 minutes, then stir well and bake for another 15 minutes. Stir in the pistachios, then bake for a final 20–25 minutes, stirring halfway, until the granola is golden and crisp in places. 5 Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely on the tray, then transfer to an airtight container and store for up to 1 month in a cool, dry place. Serve with yogurt, fresh fruit and more more date paste spooned over.

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Carrot, Coconut and Date Muffins makes 10 takes 40 mins 175g (6oz/ scant 1½ cups) plain flour (all-purpose) 50g (2oz) soft light brown sugar 1½ tsp ground cinnamon ½ tsp ground ginger

These full-flavoured little muffins make a brilliant breakfast on the go. They’re lovely served topped with a spoonful of coconut milk yogurt too. 1 Preheat the oven to 190C, gas mark 5. Place 10 muffin cases in a 12 hole muffin tin (leaving the middle two holes empty).

1 tsp baking powder 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) ½ tsp fine salt 100g (3½oz/ 1 cup) desiccated coconut (dried shredded) 150ml (5fl oz/ 2/3 cup) sunflower oil 2 medium eggs 100ml (3½fl oz/ ½ cup) whole milk 1 orange zest and juice

2 In a large mixing bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, spices, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt, and coconut. 3 In a jug beat together the oil, eggs, milk, orange zest and juice and stir through the dates. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, along with the chopped dates and grated carrot. 4 Divide the mixture between the muffin cases and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Cool in the tin completely before serving.

250g (9oz) Medjool Dates

pitted and chopped

200g (7oz) coarsely grated carrot

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h ig AL t Lunch Slow-roasted Tomatoes, Dates and Olives on Ricotta Toast 26 Roasted Carrot and Lentil Salad with Date and Caper Dressing 28 Pickled Date, Brie and Kale Toasted Sandwiches Falafel Bowls with Tahini-date Dressing Chicken, Date and Lime Burgers with Green Chilli Dressing 34

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Slow-roasted Tomatoes, Dates and Olives on Ricotta Toast serves 2 takes 1 hr 30 mins

4 plum tomatoes

Slow-roasted tomatoes and dates make a great pasta sauce too. Use 200g (7oz) cherry tomatoes instead of plum tomatoes and roast as in the recipe, then toss through cooked penne pasta and add dollops of ricotta before serving.

halved lengthways

12 green olives

1 Preheat the oven to 130˚C fan/ 250˚F

pitted and halved

/ gas mark 2. Mix together the tomatoes, olives,

3 Medjool Dates

tray and season. Roast in the oven for 1 hour 30

pitted and sliced

3 garlic cloves sliced small handful thyme sprigs 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

dates, garlic, thyme and oil in a small roasting minutes until soft and fragrant. 2 In a mixing bowl, using a wooden spoon, beat together the ricotta, parmesan, lemon zest and the basil leaves. (You can make this in advance and chill.)

250g (9oz) ricotta 20g (¾oz) parmesan

finely grated

3 Toast the sourdough and spread with the ricotta. Spoon over the tomatoes, dates and olives, plus any garlic and roasting juices (discard the thyme).

grated zest of ½ lemon small handful basil leaves

shredded

4 slices of sourdough sea salt and black pepper

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Roasted Carrot and Lentil Salad with Date and Caper Dressing serves 2 as main or 4 as side takes 30 mins 300g (10½oz) carrots scrubbed,

trimmed and halved lengthways 4 tbsp olive oil 1 tsp ground coriander

The salad is great served warm, but can also be prepared in advance and served at room temperature. 1 Preheat the oven to 180˚C fan/ 350˚F/ gas mark 6 and line a roasting tray with baking parchment. 2 Toss the carrots with 1 tablespoon of the oil, the ground coriander and a good pinch of sea salt.

100g (3½oz/½ cup) puy lentils 1 large banana shallot

sliced

Scatter over the lined roasting tray and roast for 25 minutes, turning the carrots halfway to ensure they cook evenly. Meanwhile, simmer the lentils in a pan of boiling water for 20 minutes or until tender.

2 Medjool Dates

pitted and roughly chopped 2 tbsp nonpareille capers

rinsed

2 tbsp sherry vinegar

3 Heat the remaining oil in a large frying pan (skillet) or sauté pan. Add the shallot with a pinch of salt and fry for 5 minutes until softened, then add the chopped dates and fry for a minute more. Add the capers and fry for another minute, then splash in the vinegar and remove the pan from the heat.

handful flat-leaf parsley leaves

roughly chopped

75g (2½oz) feta cheese

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4 As soon as the lentils are ready, drain them and add them to the frying pan with the date and caper

crumbled

dressing, tossing everything together. Arrange over

sea salt

top with the parsley and feta.

a serving plate along with the roasted carrots, and

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Pickled Date, Brie and Kale Toasted Sandwiches serves 2 takes 25 mins

1 bushy rosemary sprig 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar 4 Medjool Dates

Quick pickling is a great way of preparing dates as the acidity of the vinegar balances their sweetness. Make a big batch and store in the fridge ready to add to all of your sandwiches. 1 Scrunch and bruise the rosemary sprig in your hand to release the oils, then place in a small saucepan with the balsamic vinegar and dates. Heat gently until just bubbling, then remove from the heat and set aside.

pitted and chopped

30g (1oz) unsalted butter 100g (3½oz) cavolo nero or Tuscan kale roughly chopped

2 Meanwhile, heat 10g butter in a large, heavy-based frying pan over a medium heat. Add the cavolo nero, 1 tbsp water and a pinch of salt and fry for about 3-4 minutes, turning regularly until wilted; tip onto a plate and set aside. Wipe out the pan.

4 thick slices of sourdough 1 tbsp English mustard 150g (5oz) sliced ham or smoked turkey 150g (5oz) brie cheese

sliced

3 To assemble the sandwiches, spread one side of each slice of bread with butter and place butter-side down on chopping board. Next, spread two of the slices with mustard, then layer up with the wilted cavolo nero, ham or turkey, cheese and finally the pickled dates. Place the final slices of sourdough on top (with the butter on the outside) and press down lightly to compact the filling. 4 Return the pan to a medium heat. Add the sandwiches, cover with sheet of parchment, then top with another large pan, weighing it down with 2-3 cans of beans or tomatoes. Fry for 3-4 minutes, then carefully turn, weighing down again, and fry gently for another 3-4 minutes. Remove from the pan, cool for a couple of minutes, then serve.

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Falafel Balls with Tahini-date Dressing serves 4

takes 45 minutes

Falafel 200g (7oz/ 1 cup) dried chick peas

soaked overnight in cold water

2 spring onions (scallions)

whites and greens separated

Small bunch (about 15g/ ½oz) flat leaf parsley roughly chopped Small bunch (about 15g/ ½oz) coriander roughly chopped 3 garlic cloves

roughly chopped

1 tsp fine salt 1 tsp ground cumin ¼ tsp ground cinnamon 2 Medjool Dates pitted and chopped ½ tsp baking powder about 180ml (¾ cup) sunflower oil

You need to soak the chick peas in water the night before making this recipe.The dates add a lovely sweetness to the falafel balls, which can also be stuffed into pitta bread, topped with the tahini dressing and eaten as a lunch on the go. 1 Drain the chick peas and roughly chop the spring onion (scallion) greens (save the whites for the tabbouleh) and add to a food processor with the rest of the falafel ingredients apart from the oil. Whizz just until you have a coarse paste that holds together when

Tabbouleh 200g (7oz/ 2 cups) uncooked bulgur wheat (or 450g/ 1lb cooked bulgur wheat) 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil ½ lemon juice ¼ tsp ground allspice

you shape it with your hands. Chill for 30 minutes. 2 Meanwhile cook the bulgur wheat according to the pack instructions. When cooked through, drain and immediately toss with the oil, lemon juice, allspice and a good pinch of salt and set aside to cool and absorb the dressing.

2 red chicory (endive) shredded 150g (5oz) each chopped radish, cucumber and cherry tomatoes

3 For the tahini date dressing, whizz all the ingredients in a high-speed blender until smooth.

Small bunch (about 15g/ ½oz) flat leaf parsley leaves roughly chopped

4 To fry the falafel, heat the oil in a large non-stick

Small bunch (about 15g/ ½oz) mint leaves shredded

shape the falafel mixture into about 16 balls. Fry, in batches for 3-4 minutes on each side or until golden and

Tahini-date dressing 3 tbsp tahini

piping hot inside. Lift out and drain on kitchen paper.

4-6 tbsp warm water

5 Toss the endive, radish, cucumber, tomato, chopped

1 Medjool Date pitted and roughly chopped Small bunch (about 15g/ ½oz) coriander ½ lemon juice

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frying pan over a medium-high heat. With your hands

spring onion (scallion) whites and herbs through the bulgur wheat. Divide between bowls and top with the hot falafel and tahini dressing. Some extra lemon wedges are nice to serve alongside.

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Chicken, Date and Lime Burgers with Green Chilli Dressing serves 2 takes 40 mins 2 tbsp coriander seeds

You can cook these summery, zesty burgers in a frying or griddle pan, or on a hot barbecue.They can also be made with minced turkey instead of chicken. 1 Preheat the oven to 130ËšC fan/ 275ËšF fan/ gas mark 2.

500g (1lb 2oz) minced chicken thigh meat

Crush the coriander seeds in a pestle and mortar until

3 Medjool Dates

chicken, dates, fish sauce, lime leaves, scallions and a

pitted and finely chopped 1 tbsp fish sauce 4 lime leaves

finely chopped

3 spring onions (scallions)

quite fine, then tip into a mixing bowl with the minced pinch of salt and grind of black pepper. Mix together with your hands, then shape into 4 burger patties (wet your hands with cold water to stop the mixture from sticking). 2 Heat the oil in a large, non-stick frying pan and fry the

finely chopped

burgers over a medium-high heat for 5 minutes on each

1 tbsp sunflower oil

side. (You can also do this on a barbecue or griddle pan,

4 burger buns split open 2 large handfuls wild rocket (arugula) 1 avocado sliced

Green chilli dressing

1 green chilli roughly chopped

brushing the burgers with the oil before frying.) 3 While the burgers are cooking make the sauce. Place all the ingredients in a high-speed blender with a pinch of salt and whizz until smooth; set aside. 4 Transfer the chicken burgers to a baking tray along with the halved buns and place in the oven for 5 minutes to finish cooking.

1 lime zest and juice Large bunch (about 30g/ 1oz) coriander 4 tbsp mayonnaise

5 To build the burgers place a handful of rocket (arugula) leaves on each bun base. Top with a burger, a good drizzle of the chilli sauce and some avocado slices. Spoon over a little more dressing and finish with the bun tops. Serve immediately.

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Afternoon Treats Bacon, Goats’ Cheese and Lemon Thyme-stuffed Dates 38 Date and Pecan Cookies

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Caraway and Date Soda Bread Date and Stilton Sausage Rolls Chocolate Peanut Butter Dates

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Bacon, Goats’ Cheese and Lemon Thyme-stuffed Dates serves 3-4 as canapé or snack takes 35 mins

100g (3½oz) soft, mild goats’ cheese grated zest of ½ lemon pinch of dried chilli flakes 10 medjool dates 10 small, soft sprigs lemon thyme (or regular thyme) 5 rashers smoked streaky bacon

cut in half widthways sea salt and black pepper

Mild goats’ cheese, salty bacon and sweet dates are a brilliant and quite classic combination. You could also add a whole smoked almond to the dates along with the goats’ cheese, or try a mild blue cheese, liked gorgonzola dolce. 1 Preheat the oven to 200˚C fan/ 400˚F/ gas mark 7 and line a large baking tray with baking parchment. 2 Put the goats’ cheese, lemon zest, chilli flakes and a good grind of salt and pepper in a bowl and beat together. 3 Split open the dates, taking care not to cut through them completely, and remove the stones. Stuff each with a spoonful of the goats’ cheese mixture and top each stuffed date with a sprig of thyme. 4 Stretch out the halved bacon rashers a little, then wrap them around the stuffed dates so the ends meet at the non-cut side of the date. Arrange the wrapped dates, seam-side down, on the lined baking tray and roast for 20 minutes until the bacon is golden and turning a little crisp. Allow to cool slightly before eating.

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Date and Pecan Cookies makes about 14 takes 30 mins plus chilling

Once cooled, try drizzling these cookies with melted dark(semi-sweet), milk or white chocolate. 1 Preheat the oven to 150˚C fan/ 300˚F/ gas mark 3 and line a large baking tray with baking parchment.

100g (3½oz/1 cup) pecan halves 100g (3½oz) unsalted butter 60g (2oz) dark brown soft sugar 60g (2oz) caster sugar (superfine)

2 Put the pecans in a small roasting tray and roast for 8–10 mins until fragrant and toasted. Remove from the oven, set aside to cool, then roughly chop. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, warm the butter and sugars until the butter has melted, stirring to combine, then remove from the heat and leave to cool for 5 mins. 3 Put the flour in a bowl. Add the chopped dates and toss them in the flour with your fingers to stop them sticking together. Stir in the oats, bicarbonate of soda (baking soda), salt and roughly

150g (5oz/ 1¼ cups) plain flour (all-purpose)

chopped pecans. 4 Using a wooden spoon, beat the egg into the butter and sugar

5 Medjool Dates

pitted and roughly chopped 50g (2oz/ ½ cup) jumbo oats ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) ¼ tsp fine sea salt 1 medium egg

(you can do this in the saucepan), then stir the mixture into the dry ingredients until combined. Chill the cookie dough for 30 mins. 5 Take large spoonfuls of the cookie dough (about 45g/1½oz each) and roll them into balls in your hands. Arrange half of them on the lined baking tray (bake in two batches), spaced well apart, and push down firmly to flatten slightly. Bake for 13–15 mins – turning the tray halfway through the cooking time if they are browning more on one side – until spread and golden. Remove from the oven and leave to cool on the baking tray for 5 mins, then use a spatula to transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely and cook the second batch.

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Caraway and Date Soda Bread makes 1 loaf

takes 1 hour 10 mins 175g (6oz/ scant 1½ cups) plain flour (all-purpose) plus extra for dusting

This recipe is a twist on classic Irish soda bread, which is made with bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) rather than yeast to give it a rise.The sweet dates and anise-flavour of caraway are a tremendous match, and the bread is wonderful served with a nutty mature cheddar.

175g (6oz/ scant 1½ cups) wholemeal plain flour

1 Preheat the oven to 180˚C fan/ 350˚F fan/ gas mark

100g (3½oz) jumbo rolled oats

both flours, the oats, salt and bicarbonate of soda in a

6; dust a baking sheet with a little plain flour. Combine large mixing bowl and rub in the butter with your

1 tsp fine salt

fingertips until it combined.

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) 40g (1½oz) unsalted butter

chilled and cut into cubes

2 Stir through the chopped dates and all but a pinch of the caraway seeds, then make a well in the centre and pour in the buttermilk. Stir with a wooden spoon until you have a soft dough, then knead lightly with your hands and bring together to a round (don’t worry if

5 Medjool Dates

pitted and roughly chopped

it’s a little shaggy). 3 Place on the floured baking sheet. Dust the handle of

1½ tsp caraway seeds

a wooden spoon with a little more flour and use to make

350ml (scant 1½ cups) buttermilk

a cross on the top of the loaf. Scatter with the reserved caraway seeds and bake for 40-45 minutes until risen

Salted butter and mature cheddar cheese to

serve

and golden. 4 Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before slicing and serving with salted butter and mature cheddar cheese.

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Date and Stilton Sausage Rolls makes 15 takes 1 hour

Sticky dates and salty stilton work brilliantly together in these sausage rolls.They make the perfect snack, and are particularly good served with a lick of English mustard.

2 tsp olive oil 1 red onion diced 3 Medjool Dates

pitted and finely chopped 500g (1lb 2oz) pork sausage meat 1 tsp thyme leaves 75g (2½oz) stilton

crumbled

320g (11oz) all butter puff pastry sheet (about 23cm x 33cm / 9in x 13in) 1 medium egg beaten 1 tsp nigella black onion seeds English mustard

to serve

1 Preheat the oven to 180ËšC fan/ 350ËšF fan/ gas mark 6 and line a roasting tray with baking parchment. 2 Heat the oil in a saucepan over a medium-high heat and fry the onion for 5 minutes until soft. Add the dates and fry for 2-3 minutes more, until the everything is soft and sticky. Tip into a large mixing bowl with the sausage meat and thyme and mix together with your hands. Gently mix through the stilton and season with salt and black pepper. 3 Unroll the pastry sheet and cut into thirds (to make 3 strips about 11cm x 23cm / 4in x 9in). Take 1/3 of the sausage mixture and roll into a long sausage shape and place down the middle of a strip. Brush the right-hand edge of the pastry with egg, then roll up the pastry over from the left-hand side. Brush the top all over with egg and sprinkle with some of the onion seeds. 4 Repeat with the remaining pastry and filling. If the pastry is looking a little soft, chill it briefly to firm up. Cut each long sausage into 5 pieces with a serrated knife. Place on the lined baking tray and bake for 25 minutes or until golden. Cool for 10 minutes before serving warm.

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Dates serves 10 takes 15 mins

Tasting much like homemade Snickers bars, these stuffed dates are wickedly good!

50g (2oz) dark chocolate

1 Place the dark and milk chocolates in a bowl

roughly chopped

50g (2oz) milk chocolate

roughly chopped

10 Medjool Dates 5 tsp sugar-free peanut butter A few pinches of flaky sea salt 30g (2oz) white chocolate

roughly chopped

set over a pan of gently simmering water and melt, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile cut open the dates so you can remove the stones but taking care not to cut through the entire date. Fill each date with ½ tsp peanut butter and sprinkle with a little sea salt. 2 Using two forks, one at a time, turn the stuffed dates through the melted chocolate, so they are completely coated but allowing to excess to drip off. Leave to set on a sheet of baking parchment for 30 minutes 3 Melt the white chocolate, then drizzle over the top and leave to set again for another 30 minutes before serving. You can also pop them in the fridge to firm up more quickly.

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Evening Meals Linguine with Date and Pistachio

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Miso-date Salmon with Sesame Slaw Harissa and Date Lamb Shanks

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Date and Almond Pilaf with Ras-el-hanout Chicken 56 Sticky Date and Soy-braised Short Ribs

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Linguine with Date and Pistachio Pesto serves 4 takes 15 mins 2 Medjool Dates

pitted and roughly chopped grated zest of 1 lemon juice of ½ lemon

plus a wedge to serve 2 tbsp nonpareille capers

This is a twist on a Sicilian pesto made with sultanas and anchovies, which are replaced here with dates and capers. It’s also nice served with fish: try serving it with barbecued sardines or sea bream. 1 Put the dates, lemon zest and juice, capers, garlic, pistachios, chilli flakes, parsley and a pinch of sea salt in the small bowl of a food processor. Pulse until roughly chopped, then add the oil and pulse again until combined.

rinsed and drained 1 garlic clove

roughly chopped 2 tbsp shelled pistachios ¼ tsp dried chilli flakes large handful flat-leaf parsley (about 25g/ ¾oz)

roughly chopped

4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil 350g (12oz) linguine

2 Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Add the pasta and cook for 1 minute less than the instructions on the packet. Just before draining, scoop out a mugful of the cooking water, then drain the pasta. 3 Return the pasta to the pan over a low heat and add the pesto and a splash of the cooking water. Toss together with a pair of tongs, then divide among plates and serve with a lemon wedge alongside. A little grated pecorino scattered over the top is nice, too.

sea salt grated pecorino

to serve (optional)

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51


Miso-date Salmon with Sesame Slaw serves 4 takes 45 mins plus overnight marinating

The slaw is adaptable to all sorts of veg. Try white cabbage, shredded carrots, or shredded sugar snap peas.Try it with slivers of Medjool Date in the mix, too.

Miso date salmon

1 Start the salmon the day before you want to serve it.

3 tbsp white miso paste

In a mixing bowl, whisk the miso paste and date paste

5 tbsp date paste

together, then whisk in the sake and mirin. Pour the

(see page 11)

mixture into a strong resealable plastic bag and add

3 tbsp sake

and leave to marinate in the fridge for 12–24 hours.

3 tbsp mirin 4 salmon fillets

skin on

Sesame slaw 300g (10½oz) red cabbage

(about ½ small red cabbage)

150g (5oz) baby spinach

the salmon fillets, making sure they’re well coated. Seal

2 Shortly before you cook the salmon, shred the cabbage, spinach and spring onions (scallions) and combine them in a large mixing bowl. Mix the sesame oil, soy sauce, rice vinegar and sake in a separate bowl ready to dress the slaw just before serving. 3 Preheat the grill to high (240˚C/460˚F) and line a grill tray with foil. Remove the salmon from

2 spring onions (scallions)

the marinade, wipe off and discard as much of

1 tbsp toasted sesame oil

salmon, skin-side down, on the foil-lined tray and

1 tbsp soy sauce

the excess marinade as possible, then place the grill for 8–10 minutes until lightly caramelised and just cooked through.

1 tbsp rice vinegar 1 tbsp sake 1 tsp toasted sesame seeds

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4 Toss the slaw with the dressing and divide among plates. Top with the salmon and scatter over the sesame seeds.

53


Harissa and Date Lamb Shanks serves 2

takes about 3 hours

The lamb shanks taste even better made in advance and then reheated the next day. It gives the flavours in the sauce time to develop.

1 tbsp olive oil

1 Preheat the oven to 130˚C fan/ 250˚F/ gas mark 2.

2 lamb shanks 1 onion sliced 1 carrot

finely diced

2 garlic cloves

Heat the oil in a medium casserole dish over a medium heat. Season the lamb shanks, add them to the dish and brown them for about 10 minutes, turning the shanks regularly, until golden all over. Lift them out of the pan and set aside.

crushed

3 Medjool Dates

pitted and roughly chopped 2 tbsp harissa paste 400g (14oz) can chopped tomatoes sea salt and black pepper To serve 350g (9oz) cooked couscous

(made from about 150g dried couscous) handful chopped coriander handful flat-leaf parsley leaves 3–4 tbsp natural yogurt

2 There shouldn’t be too much fat in the pan, but spoon out any excess if there is – you want about 1 tablespoon left in the pan. Add the onion and a pinch of salt and fry gently for 5 minutes until softened, then add the carrot and garlic and fry for another 5 minutes. 3 Add the dates and harissa paste and fry for another minute, then tip in the tomatoes. Half-fill the can with water and tip it into the casserole dish, stirring everything together. Bring to a simmer, then return the lamb shanks to the dish. 4 Cover the casserole dish with a lid and place it in the oven for 45 minutes. Uncover and cook for another 1 hour 15 minutes, turning the lamb shanks every 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow the shanks to rest for 20 minutes, before serving with couscous, plenty of fresh herbs and natural yogurt.

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55


Date and Almond Pilaf with Ras-el-hanout Chicken

serves 4 takes 45 mins

4 skin-on chicken breasts 2 tbsp olive oil ½ lemon grated zest and juice 2 tsp ras el hanout (North African spice mix) 2 garlic cloves

crushed

300g (10½oz) podded broad (fava) beans

This delicately spiced pilaf also goes well with lamb. Try it with slow-roasted shoulder or the shank recipe on page 30. 1 Preheat the oven to 140˚C fan / 275˚F fan / gas mark 3. Place the chicken in a large, resealable food bag with the oil, lemon zest and juice, ras el hanout and garlic. Season and massage the marinade into the chicken, then seal the bag and set aside while you make the pilaf. 2 For the pilaf, heat the butter in a medium saucepan (with

300g (10½oz) asparagus spears trimmed

a tight-fitting lid) over a medium heat. Once foaming, fry the

Pilaf 25g (¾oz) unsalted butter

Add the dates, spices and salt and fry, stirring, for 2 minutes.

1 onion finely diced 1 garlic clove

onion and garlic gently for 10 minutes until soft but not coloured. Stir in the rice, then add the hot stock. Cover with a lid and simmer very gently over a low heat for 12 minutes. Take off the heat and leave covered for another 5 minutes.

crushed

2 Medjool Dates

3 Meanwhile, bring a large pan of salted water to the boil.

pitted and roughly chopped

Simmer the broad (fava) beans for a minute, then add the asparagus

½ tsp ground allspice

cold running water. Slip the broad beans from their skins.

½ tsp ground cinnamon ½ tsp fine sea salt 300g (10½oz/ 1½ cups) white basmati rice well rinsed 500ml (18fl oz/ 2¼ cups) hot chicken stock ½ lemon juice chopped dill and toasted almond flakes to garnish

and simmer for another 2 minutes. Drain together and rinse under

4 Heat a large ovenproof frying pan (skillet) over a medium-high heat (or if you don’t have an ovenproof pan, have a roasting tray ready to transfer the chicken to). Fry the marinated chicken, skin-side down, for 5 minutes until golden. Turn the breasts over and place the pan in the oven for 15 minutes or until cooked through. Transfer the chicken to a chopping board and rest for 5 minutes. 5 Fluff up the rice and stir through the lemon juice, veg, dill and almonds. Slice the chicken and serve with the pilaf, with any resting juices spooned over.

57


Sticky Date and Soy-braised Short Ribs serves 4-6 takes 3 hours 45 mins 1.5kg (3lb 5oz) beef short ribs on the bone

trimmed of excess sinew and fat 1 tbsp sunflower oil

500g (1lb 4oz) banana shallots

peeled, trimmed and halved

2 garlic cloves, crushed

This is a warming, rich and aromatic dish perfect for those colder nights. It is best served with rice or mashed potato (try spiking it with a little wasabi paste) and some freshly steamed greens alongside. 1 Preheat the oven to 160˚C fan/ 325˚F fan/ gas mark 4. Take the short ribs out of the fridge at least 30 minutes before you start cooking. Pat dry on kitchen towel and season all over with salt and pepper. 2 Heat the oil over a medium-high heat in a large ovenproof sauté pan or casserole for which you have a lid. Fry the short

20g (3/4oz) fresh root ginger

ribs, turning to brown on all sides, then set aside on a plate.

1 tsp fennel seeds

3 Turn the heat to medium and add the shallots to the pan.

2 star anise

add the garlic and ginger and cook for another 2 minutes.

peeled and finely grated

1 tbsp tomato paste 5 Medjool Dates

pitted and roughly chopped 4 tbsp dark soy sauce

Fry for 5 minutes until golden and starting to soften, then Tip in the fennel seeds and star anise and fry for a minute more, then add the tomato paste and fry, stirring for another minute. Add the dates, soy and stock, bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer. Return the short ribs to the pan.

750ml (3 cups) fresh chicken stock

4 Cover the pan with a lid and place in the oven for 2 hours,

1 lime juice

turning the ribs occasionally if they’re not fully submerged in

Sticky rice or mashed potato and steamed greens

to serve

the liquid. Uncover and cook for a final 45 minutes. Take out of the oven and leave to sit for 15 minutes. 5 Spoon the excess fat off the top of the sauce and squeeze in the lime juice, before serving with sticky rice or mashed potato and steamed greens.

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59


Sweet Things Apple and Date Cinnamon Buns Marscarpone-stuffed Dates

62

64

Gluten-free Date and Ginger Cake

66

Vegan Date, Coconut and Cacao Brownies

68

Steamed Sticky Toffee and Date Puddings

70

Baklawa-stuffed Dates

72

Coffee, Date and Walnut Cake with Mascarpone Frosting 74


Apple and Date Cinnamon Buns

makes 12 takes 1 hour plus 2 hours rising time Buns 250ml (8½fl oz/ 1 cup) whole (full-fat) milk

50g (2oz) unsalted butter

Classic cinnamon buns are studded with chopped dates and apple for an autumnal spin on a much-loved classic. 1 Warm the milk and butter into a small pan over a low heat

plus extra for greasing

until the butter has just melted. Take off the heat and cool for

500g (1lb 1oz/ 2 cups) strong white bread flour

a minute until warm but not hot. Meanwhile, in a large mixing

plus extra for dusting

2 tsp caster sugar 1 tsp fine salt 7g (1/4 oz) sachet easy bake yeast 1 medium egg beaten Filling 2 tbsp ground cinnamon 75g (2½oz) unsalted butter

softened

10 Medjool Dates

pitted and finely chopped 2 Granny Smith apples

peeled and finely diced

Topping 100g (3½oz) Philadelphia soft cheese 100g (3½oz) icing sugar 1 tbsp whole (full-fat) milk ½ tsp vanilla bean paste

bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, salt and yeast. Pour in the milk mixture and the egg, and mix with a wooden spoon to a soft dough. 2 Tip the dough onto a work surface and knead for 10 minutes until smooth. Clean the mixing bowl, grease with a little oil and place the dough inside. Cover with clingfilm and leave to rise in a warm place for 60-90 minutes or until doubled in size. 3 Lightly grease a 23cm x 33cm (9in x 13in) cake tin. To make the filling, beat the cinnamon into the butter. Tip the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and roll out to a large rectangle, about 40cm x 50cm (16in x 20in). Spread the dough with the cinnamon butter and sprinkle the chopped dates and apple evenly over the top. 4 From one of the longer sides, roll up the dough as tightly as you can. Trim off the ends, then slice into 12 equal pieces. Arrange the rolls into the greased tin and cover with clingfilm. Leave to rise until the rolls have doubled in size, about 45 minutes. 5 Preheat the oven to 160˚C fan/ 325˚F fan/ gas mark 4. Bake the buns for 30-35 minutes or until golden on top. Allow to cool for 10 minutes in the tin. Meanwhile, mix all the topping ingredients together in a bowl until smooth. Drizzle or spread over the buns and serve while still warm.

62


Mascarpone-stuffed Dates makes about 15 takes 5 mins

150g (5oz) mascarpone

These make a great sweet canapĂŠ for a party. You can stuff them in advance, chill until ready to serve, and scatter over the nuts and extra zest at the last minute. 1 Mix the mascarpone with the orange zest in a bowl. Add a drop of just-boiled water from the kettle

grated zest of 1 orange

plus extra for grating over

about 15 Medjool Dates 2 tbsp shelled pistachios

roughly chopped

to loosen the mixture if needed. 2 Fully split open the dates and remove the stones. Stuff each date with a spoonful of mascarpone and set them on a platter. Scatter the pistachios over the dates and grate over a little more orange zest just before serving.

65


Gluten-free Date and Ginger Cake serves 10 takes 1 hour 30 mins 175g (6oz) unsalted butter

softened, plus extra for greasing 6 Medjool Dates

pitted and roughly chopped 3 balls stem ginger

roughly chopped

100ml (3½fl oz/ scant ½ cup) maple syrup 3 large eggs 200g (7oz/2 cups) ground almonds 50g (2oz/ generous ¼ cup) rice flour 1 tsp gluten-free baking powder 1 tsp ground ginger ½ tsp fine sea salt To decorate 200ml (7fl oz/ scant 1 cup) double (heavy) cream 1 tsp vanilla bean paste or extract chopped Medjool Dates and seasonal fresh fruit

66

This gluten-free cake can also be cooked in a loaf tin – it will take about the same amount of time in the oven. If you prefer, leave out the fruit and cream topping – it makes a homely teatime treat served just as it is. 1 Preheat the oven to 150˚C fan/ 300˚F fan/ gas mark 3, lightly grease a 20cm (8in) round springform or loose-bottomed cake tin and line the base and sides with baking parchment. 2 Put the butter, dates and stem ginger in a food processor and blitz until smooth. Add the maple syrup and blitz to combine, then add the eggs and blitz again. 3 Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl, then add them to the food processor and blitz until just combined. Tip the mixture into the prepared cake tin and bake for 55–60 minutes until golden and risen – a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake should come out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely in the tin. 4 Remove the cake from the tin and sit it on a cake stand or plate. Using electric beaters, whip the cream and vanilla in a bowl until it forms soft peaks then spoon it over the top of the cake. Decorate with chopped dates and fresh fruit.

67


Vegan Date, Coconut and Cacao Brownies makes 12-16 brownies takes 40 mins plus chilling 100g (3½oz/¾cup) blanched hazelnuts 50g (2oz/scant ½ cup) ground almonds 50g (2oz/½ cup) jumbo oats

You can play with the flavour of these brownies, using cashews or walnuts instead of hazelnuts, or adding a pinch of dried chilli flakes to the mixture. 1 Preheat the oven to 160˚C fan/ 325˚F fan/ gas mark 4 and line an 18cm (7in) square cake tin with a large sheet of clingfilm. 2 Put the hazelnuts in a roasting tray and roast for 8 minutes or until golden. Remove from the oven, set aside to cool, then tip into a food processor and pulse until finely ground (don’t over-mix it or too much oil will be released from the nuts and it will turn into nut butter).

50g (2oz/generous ½ cup) desiccated coconut (dried shredded) 4 tbsp cacao powder

3 Tip in the almonds, oats, coconut, cacao and salt and pulse until combined, then add the dates and blitz until it all comes together to a sticky paste (if it doesn’t come together, add another chopped date). Press the mixture into the lined tin, smoothing the top with the back

¼ tsp fine sea salt

of a spoon. Chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours, or up to 48 hours.

10 Medjool Dates

4 For the coating, whisk together the coconut oil and maple syrup

pitted and roughly chopped Chocolate coating 110g (3 ¾oz) coconut oil

in a mixing bowl. Sift in the cacao powder a little at a time (if you add it all at once the mixture might seize up, so aim to combine it in about four additions).

melted

100ml (3½fl oz/scant ½ cup) maple syrup 65g (2 ¼oz) cacao powder 1–2 tbsp desiccated coconut (dried shredded) for sprinkling

68

5 Remove the brownie base from the fridge and lift it out of the tin, removing the clingfilm. Cut it into 12–16 squares. Using 2 forks, turn each piece in the chocolate mixture, setting them down on a sheet of baking parchment. Sprinkle each chocolate-coated bar with a little desiccated (dried shredded) coconut and allow them to set before serving (on a warm day you may need to pop them in the fridge). They will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.

69


Steamed Sticky Toffee and Date Puddings

makes 8 puddings takes 50 mins

sunflower oil for greasing 175g (6oz) unsalted butter softened 100g (3½oz/generous ½ cup) light brown muscovado sugar 6 Medjool Dates

pitted and finely chopped 3 medium eggs 1 tsp vanilla extract 2 tbsp black treacle (blackstrap molasses) 175g (6oz/scant 1½ cups) self-raising flour ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) ½ tsp baking powder ½ tsp fine sea salt Butterscotch sauce 30g (1oz) unsalted butter 2 tbsp date paste

(see page 11)

150g (5oz/generous ¾ cup) light brown muscovado sugar pinch of sea salt 200ml (7 fl oz/scant 1 cup) double (heavy) cream

70

Serve these with clotted cream, crème fraîche or vanilla ice cream. 1 Preheat the oven to 160˚C fan/ 325˚F fan/ gas mark 4, lightly grease 8 mini pudding moulds (175ml/6fl oz-volume moulds) with oil and place a small circle of baking parchment into the base of each. Sit them in a roasting tray. 2 Using electric beaters, cream the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in the dates, then beat in the eggs, one at a time, followed by the vanilla and treacle (molasses). Combine the flour, bicarbonate of soda (baking soda), baking powder and salt in a bowl, then fold the flour mixture into the wet mixture and divide evenly between the moulds. 3 Carefully pour a kettle of just-boiled water into the roasting tray, until the water sits about halfway up the outside of the moulds. Cover the top of the roasting tray with a large pleated sheet of foil, making sure it’s tightly sealed around the edges (you don’t want any steam to escape). Place in the oven for 30 minutes. 4 To make the butterscotch sauce, put the butter, date paste and sugar in saucepan and set over a low heat. Add the salt and stir occasionally until the sugar has dissolved, then stir in the double (heavy) cream until combined. Remove from the heat. 5 Remove the tray from the oven and take off the foil, and gently warm the butterscotch sauce. Loosen the puddings in the moulds carefully with a sharp knife to help release the sides, then invert them onto small plates and remove the moulds and parchment. Pour over the warm butterscotch sauce.


Baklawa-stuffed

Dates

makes 10 takes 30 mins

20g (3/4oz) walnuts

Baklawa is a traditional Middle Eastern sweet of nuts, honey and spices wrapped in filo pastry, though in this recipe the pastry is replaced with dates.They’re perfect for serving after a rich meal with cups of fresh mint tea.

20g (3/4oz) almonds

1 Preheat the oven to 160˚C fan/ 325˚F fan/ gas

½(half) tbsp orange blossom honey

mark 4. Mix the walnuts, almonds, honey, lemon

1 tsp lemon juice 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon 2 cardamom pods

cracked open

juice, cinnamon and a pinch of salt on a parchmentlined baking tray and roast for 5 minutes. Meanwhile shake the seeds out of the cardamom pods and grind in a pestle and mortar. 2 Stir the cardamom and pistachios through the nuts and roast for another 3 minutes, then set aside to cool for 10 minutes.

40g (1½oz) pistachios 10 Medjool Dates 1 tsp edible rose petals

3 Cut a slit down the middle of the dates and remove the stones. Chop the nuts so they are quite fine (or pulse in a food processor) and use to stuff the dates. Sprinkle with rose petals and serve.

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73


Coffee, Date and Walnut Cake with Mascarpone Frosting serves 8-10 takes 1 hour 10 mins plus cooling Cake 2180g (6½oz) unsalted butter

plus extra for greasing

A celebratory, show-stopper of a cake. Adding mascarpone to the frosting gives it a lighter finish, though you could use all butter. 1 Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/gas 4; grease 2 x 22cm (9in) sandwich tins and line the bases with baking parchment. For the cake,

9 Medjool Dates pitted

place the dates in a small bowl and cover with the freshly brewed coffee;

100ml (3½ fl oz/ ½ cup) freshly brewed espresso or strong coffee

set aside for about 10 minutes, until cooled. Place the walnuts in a small baking tray and toast for 8-10 minutes until golden; set aside to cool.

100g (3½oz) walnuts

2 Whizz the dates and coffee in a high-speed blender (such as a

220g (8oz/ 1¾ cups) self-raising flour

Nutribullet), scraping down the sides as needed, to a smooth, thick paste.

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) 180g (6½oz/ ¾ cup) caster sugar (superfine)

3 Mix the flour and bicarbonate of soda in a small bowl with a pinch of salt. Cream the butter and sugar together with electric beaters until light and fluffy (about 2-3 minutes). Beat in the eggs one at a time, adding a spoonful of the flour mix with each, to prevent splitting.

3 medium eggs

4 Fold in the walnuts, date paste and remaining flour until combined.

Frosting 75g (2½oz) unsalted butter

Divide evenly between the prepared tins and smooth the tops. Bake for

softened

200g (7oz/ 1 cup) icing sugar 250g (9oz) mascarpone 2 scant tbsp freshly brewed espresso or strong coffee cooled Coffee syrup 50g caster sugar 50ml (1¾ fl oz/ ¼ cup) freshly brewed espresso or strong coffee 3 Medjool Dates

pitted and sliced

20-25 minutes, or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Cool in the tins for 10 minutes, before turning out onto a wire rack. Remove the parchment and cool completely. 5 Meanwhile, make the frosting. Using electric beaters, cream the butter for a few minutes until light. Sift in the icing sugar and mix on low speed to incorporate, before beating on high, until fluffy (about 2-3 minutes). Beat in the mascarpone and cooled coffee until combined; set aside. 6 For the syrup, gently heat the sugar with a 1 tbsp water until dissolved. Simmer briskly, without stirring, for about 2-3 minutes until you have dark amber caramel. Add the coffee and sliced dates, bubbling for a further 2-3 minutes, until thickened but still syrupy. Cool briefly. 7 Spread half the frosting onto one of the cakes, place the other cake on top and spread with the remaining frosting. Drizzle over the date-coffee

74

syrup (make sure it’s just warm enough to be pourable) and serve.


recipes Eleanor Maidment food styling Eleanor Maidmen & Myles Williamson

photographs Maja Smend styling Lydia Brun 76

food styling assistant Jennie Vincent design Emily Fox


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