29 November 2011

From Silver Palate Restaurant Sheila Lukins: Sticky Toffee Date Cake

Dates and Yogurt

From Denny:  Dates are loved around the world.  In the Middle East they are a traditional part of the culture, offered as a sign of hospitality.  Dates are served with strong black coffee and sometimes yogurt to balance the intense sweetness.

We love them in America too, especially here in Louisiana, and we never miss a chance to check out a cake recipe featuring them.  One beautiful characteristic of dates is that cakes like this freeze well and can be enjoyed months later.

This recipe is from a long time famous food writer, Sheila Lukins.  Read on to find out about her many cookbooks she has authored as she has worked for Parade Magazine and co-founded the restaurant takeout shop at the Silver Palate Restaurant.

Amazon book review:  Steak. Burgers. Chocolate. Pasta. Ice cream. Shrimp. The first asparagus of spring, corn and tomatoes from the height of summer. These are the foods people love—passionately, unconditionally. Sheila Lukins identifies 32 of them, from prime rib and other Important Roasts to perfect Hors d'oeuvres. Then she obsessively offers the ten very best recipes for each, and voilà: Ten, the dazzling be-all and end-all cookbook from one of America's most beloved food writers, coauthor of The Silver Palate Cookbook and The New Basics Cookbook and author, most recently, of Celebrate!.

Ten is perfection, the peak, a repertoire of pure crave. Ten is the ten best roast chicken recipes, including Asian-Scented orange Chicken and Pot-Roasted Chicken Santiago. The ten best burgers, with a classic Bacon Swiss Burger with Tomato and Avocado and Jeremiah Tower's extravagant Black Truffled Burger. Ten best mashed potatoes—you haven't lived until you try Sheila's silky, sexy Lobster Mashed Potatoes. The ten best Sunday dinners, ten best seafood salads, ten best cakes. with over 300 recipes, including dishes from top chefs, such as Tom Colicchio's Roasted Rack of Pork, Judy Rodgers's Zuni Café Roast Chicken with Bread Salad, Anthony Bourdain's Choucroute Garni, Tom Valenti's Red wine and Tomato Braised Duck, and others, Ten is truly a celebration of the best of the best.

Laura’s Sticky Toffee Date Cake

From:  “Ten: All the Foods We Love and 10 Recipes for Each” by Sheila Lukins. Published in 2008, the price has dropped to $7.98.

About the author:  "Sheila Lukins is one of America's best-known and best-loved food writers. She was cofounder of The Silver Palate take-out shop, which inspired a series of cookbooks and food products that changed the way we eat. She is the food editor of Parade magazine and lives in New York City."

Serves: 8


For the cake:

1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature, plus extra for greasing the pan
8 ozs. pitted dried dates, chopped
1 tsp. baking soda
5 tbls. granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 3/4 tsps. baking powder

For the sauce:
2 sticks unsalted butter
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 cup packed dark or light brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract


1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch round cake pan. Set the pan aside.

2. Place the chopped dates in a small saucepan, add 1 cup water, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 3 minutes. Stir in the baking soda (the mixture will bubble up slightly). Set the pan aside to cool.

3. Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the vanilla and mix to combine.

4. Add the flour and salt, and mix to combine. Stir in the dates, including any liquid, and then stir in the baking powder.

5. Scrape the batter into the prepared cake pan, and bake until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Do not overbake or the cake will be dry.

6. Let the cake cook in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Then remove the cake from the pan, and place it on a plate.

7. While the cake is cooling, prepare the sauce: Combine all the sauce ingredients in a small saucepan. Place the pan over medium-low heat and cook, stirring, until the butter has melted and the sauce is smooth, 2 to 3 minutes. Raise the heat slightly, and simmer until the sauce thickens slightly, 3 minutes. Let the sauce cool for about 5 minutes.

8. Using a skewer, poke holes all over the surface of the cake. Pour the sauce over the cake while both still warm.

9. Serve the cake warm with ice cream or whipped cream on top.

Notes: This cake freezes well. Cool the cake completely, cut it into wedges, and then freeze the wedges individually, well wrapped, for up to 2 months. A slice can be thawed and reheated. The cake can be reheated in a 350-degree oven for 10 minutes.

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