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Date and Tamarind Loaf

by , featured in Season: Big Flavors, Beautiful Food
Published by Chronicle Books
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Introduction

The inspiration for this cake is a sweet chutney made from dates and tamarind, which is commonly served as a dipping sauce with samosas and other fried snacks. I often dust this cake with confectioners’ sugar or drizzle it with a little Kefir Creme Fraiche (see below).

A high-speed blender is a marvelous tool to use for olive oil cakes because it can quickly whip air and emulsify the liquids in the batter to create a delicate cake crumb. This cake is first spiced with ginger and black pepper and sweetened with jaggery, adding contrast to the tamarind and dates in the batter, and then finally drizzled with a tamarind glaze to add a pop of fruitiness. I prefer to use the sour tamarind found in the Asian grocery stores rather than the sweeter Mexican variety because its stronger flavor comes through better in baking.

The inspiration for this cake is a sweet chutney made from dates and tamarind, which is commonly served as a dipping sauce with samosas and other fried snacks. I often dust this cake with confectioners’ sugar or drizzle it with a little Kefir Creme Fraiche (see below).

A high-speed blender is a marvelous tool to use for olive oil cakes because it can quickly whip air and emulsify the liquids in the batter to create a delicate cake crumb. This cake is first spiced with ginger and black pepper and sweetened with jaggery, adding contrast to the tamarind and dates in the batter, and then finally drizzled with a tamarind glaze to add a pop of fruitiness. I prefer to use the sour tamarind found in the Asian grocery stores rather than the sweeter Mexican variety because its stronger flavor comes through better in baking.

Image of Nik Sharma's Date and Tamarind Loaf
Photo by Nik Sharma

Ingredients

Makes: 8 to 9 servings

Metric Cups

For the Date and Tamarind Loaf

  • 3¼ ounces sour tamarind pulp or paste
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 16 pitted medjool dates (finely chopped)
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts
  • 6 walnut halves
  • ¾ cup plus 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • ¾ cup jaggery or muscovado sugar
  • 2 large eggs (at room temperature)
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar

For the Kefir Creme Fraiche

  • 1 tablespoon full-fat kefir
  • 1 cup heavy cream

For the Date and Tamarind Loaf

  • 90 grams sour tamarind pulp or paste
  • 240 millilitres boiling water
  • 280 grams plain flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 16 pitted medjool dates (finely chopped)
  • 60 grams chopped walnuts
  • 6 walnut halves
  • 180 millilitres plus 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 150 grams jaggery or muscovado sugar
  • 2 large eggs (at room temperature)
  • 120 grams icing sugar

For the Kefir Creme Fraiche

  • 1 tablespoon full-fat kefir
  • 240 millilitres double cream

Method

Date and Tamarind Loaf is a guest recipe by Nik Sharma so we are not able to answer questions regarding this recipe

For the Date and Tamarind Loaf:

  1. Put the tamarind in a medium heat-proof bowl and add the boiling water, pressing down on the tamarind with a spoon so it’s covered with water. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for at least 1 hour. Massage and squeeze the pulp to soften it, and press through a fine-mesh strainer suspended over a bowl, discarding the solids in the strainer. Measure out 1 cup [240 g] pulp for this recipe. Reserve 2 Tbsp of the pulp in a small bowl to prepare the glaze.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°F [180°C]. Grease an 8½ by 4½ in [21.5 by 11 cm] loaf pan with butter and line the bottom with parchment paper.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, ginger, pepper, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Put the dates in a small bowl. Add the walnuts and 2 Tbsp of the whisked dry ingredients and toss to coat evenly.
  4. Combine the ¾ cup [180 ml] olive oil, the 1 cup [240g] tamarind pulp, and jaggery in a blender and pulse on high speed for a few seconds until completely emulsified. Add one egg and pulse for 3 to 4 seconds, until combined. Repeat with the remaining egg.
  5. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients in the bowl, and pour the egg mixture into the well. Whisk the dry ingredients into the egg mixture and continue whisking until there are no visible flecks of flour. Then fold in the dates and walnuts.
  6. Spoon the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Arrange the walnuts halves in a straight line down the center of the loaf. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking, until firm to the touch in the center and a skewer comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for about 10 minutes, and run a knife around the inside of the pan to release the cake. Remove from the pan and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  7. Add the remaining 1 tsp of olive oil to the small bowl containing the reserved tamarind. Sift in the confectioners’ sugar and whisk until completely smooth. Pour the glaze over the cooled loaf and let it sit for 1 hour to set before serving.

For the Kefir Creme Fraiche:

Creme fraiche is a luxurious ingredient. It has a velvety smooth texture and a mildly sweet and tangy taste. And because it has a much more interesting flavor profile than heavy cream, I use it often in both sweet and savory dishes.
Buttermilk is often used to ferment the cream, but I prefer using kefir. It contains yeast in addition to lactobacilli, and together they create a silkier and more puddinglike creme fraiche with a richer flavor.

Makes 1 cup

In a sterile 1 pt [480 ml] canning jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine the kefir and the heavy cream. Stir with a spoon and cover with a clean piece of cheesecloth. Keep in a warm place (preferably 71°F [22°C]) until it thickens, at least 24 hours. Remove the cheesecloth and seal the jar. Store in the refrigerator for 48 hours before using. Keep refrigerated, and use within 2 weeks.

For the Date and Tamarind Loaf:

  1. Put the tamarind in a medium heat-proof bowl and add the boiling water, pressing down on the tamarind with a spoon so it’s covered with water. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for at least 1 hour. Massage and squeeze the pulp to soften it, and press through a fine-mesh strainer suspended over a bowl, discarding the solids in the strainer. Measure out 1 cup [240 g] pulp for this recipe. Reserve 2 Tbsp of the pulp in a small bowl to prepare the glaze.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°F [180°C]. Grease an 8½ by 4½ in [21.5 by 11 cm] loaf pan with butter and line the bottom with parchment paper.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, ginger, pepper, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, and salt. Put the dates in a small bowl. Add the walnuts and 2 Tbsp of the whisked dry ingredients and toss to coat evenly.
  4. Combine the ¾ cup [180 ml] olive oil, the 1 cup [240g] tamarind pulp, and jaggery in a blender and pulse on high speed for a few seconds until completely emulsified. Add one egg and pulse for 3 to 4 seconds, until combined. Repeat with the remaining egg.
  5. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients in the bowl, and pour the egg mixture into the well. Whisk the dry ingredients into the egg mixture and continue whisking until there are no visible flecks of flour. Then fold in the dates and walnuts.
  6. Spoon the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Arrange the walnuts halves in a straight line down the center of the loaf. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking, until firm to the touch in the center and a skewer comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for about 10 minutes, and run a knife around the inside of the pan to release the cake. Remove from the pan and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  7. Add the remaining 1 tsp of olive oil to the small bowl containing the reserved tamarind. Sift in the confectioners’ sugar and whisk until completely smooth. Pour the glaze over the cooled loaf and let it sit for 1 hour to set before serving.

For the Kefir Creme Fraiche:

Creme fraiche is a luxurious ingredient. It has a velvety smooth texture and a mildly sweet and tangy taste. And because it has a much more interesting flavor profile than double cream, I use it often in both sweet and savory dishes.
Buttermilk is often used to ferment the cream, but I prefer using kefir. It contains yeast in addition to lactobacilli, and together they create a silkier and more puddinglike creme fraiche with a richer flavor.

Makes 1 cup

In a sterile 1 pt [480 ml] canning jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine the kefir and the double cream. Stir with a spoon and cover with a clean piece of cheesecloth. Keep in a warm place (preferably 71°F [22°C]) until it thickens, at least 24 hours. Remove the cheesecloth and seal the jar. Store in the refrigerator for 48 hours before using. Keep refrigerated, and use within 2 weeks.

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