Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Date and Carrot Cake

It’s already 2013 and how quickly did 2012 fly by! Have you made any New Year resolutions? Do you keep yourself up to those resolutions when you make them? I make New Year resolutions every year and in blink of an eye, the year just passes by without fulfilling the resolutions taken. So this year for a change, I thought I would stay away from this resolution agenda, but keeping some good motives for the year. Wishing you all a wonderful New Year. Let this year be better than yesteryear for all of you wonderful people out there.

The past few weeks have been a like a rollercoaster ride for me with whirlwind of things happening one after the other that tied me up entirely and saving me no time for blogging. The kid’s school was closing for Christmas; so I spent lot of time making edible gifts for his teachers. Also, we had our friends  over for Christmas, the husband’s annual leave, the New Year party, all kept me well occupied.

Here is a recipe that I wanted to share long back and has been sitting in my drafts for few years now. And this recipe was supposed to be posted few weeks back, much before Christmas, so that someone who doesn’t really like traditional fruit cakes can bake it. It dint work according to plan and this recipe had to come late. It is the cake that you see on my header, that I baked couple of years back when I visited my family back in UAE. It was passed down to me by my sister who took it off her sister in law. A perfect cake by all means - taste and texture. It is soft, moist and perfectly balanced.

It is a little time consuming, but there is no way you could go wrong. The first time I made this cake, I had no hope of success as it used different method of preparation and initial stage of mixing sugar and oil seemed a bit suspicious. And until halfway through the preparation, batter is a bit thick for  a cake batter and only after the addition of carrots and dates it starts to thin out a bit. But at the end it all comes together and bakes to a perfect cake. I have given the step by step pictures here. As they were taken at night, they are not great, but you could have an idea of how it is done. It is a huge cake, packed with goodness of carrots, dates and nuts and use minimal fat, the factor that I love most about this cake. Preparation wise, it is much different from our butter based cakes where usual creaming of butter, sugar and eggs are involved. You could eat them just after it comes out of the oven, but the flavour intensifies as it sits for couple of days or more.

Date and Carrot Cake
Preparation time:20-30 minutes
Bake time 1 hour- 1 hour 20 minutes
Cuts into 12 large pieces

1 cup plain flour
½ tsp soda Bi-carbonate (Baking soda)
½ cup semolina/farina/sooji

1 1” piece cinnamon stick
6 cloves
6 green cardamoms
¼ piece of nutmeg

2 cups , 350g finely chopped dates
½ tsp baking soda
¼ cup hot water
2 cups, 2 large,220g finely grated carrot
100g mix of chopped nuts like almonds and cashew nuts
2 tsp vanilla essence
Juice and zest of an orange
1 tbsp lime juice
1 ½ cup caster sugar *
¼ cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs,separated


1. In a small bowl place chopped dates, ½ tsp baking soda and water and mix well. Leave it aside for an hour.

2. Grind the spices into fine powder by adding 1 tbsp of sugar from the 1 ½ cup sugar. Mix it with flour, ½ tsp of baking soda and the semolina. Sieve it once to distribute the ingredients.

3. In a clean bowl, using an electric beater whisk the egg whites until soft peaks are formed.

4. Take another large bowl. Add in oil and caster sugar and using a wire whisk or an electric beater beat for 2 minutes. The sugar will just get wet at this point.

5. Into this sugar-oil mix, add egg yolks one by one, mixing well after each addition.

6. Into this, add soaked dates, chopped nuts and carrots. Mix well.

7. Add vanilla essence, orange juice, orange zest, lime juice and mix well again using a wooden spoon.

8. Add the flour mix into the wet mixture in 2-3 batches and gently fold until well incorporated.

9. Whisk the whites again just to break up and gently fold it into the batter without knocking out the air bubbles.

10. Bake it at 170ºC/150ºC fan oven for about 1 hour and 20 minutes  or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes clean without any crumbs clinging on to it or it springs back gently when touched in the centre. The baking time may depend from oven to oven and it can get cooked faster. Check for doneness around 50 minutes to ensure it is fully baked by inserting a skewer in the middle of the cake. At times, the dates could cling onto the skewer, so you may try poking onto different places on the cake or press gently on top to see if it springs back to see if it is done.

* If the sugar crystals are big, please grind them before using.
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