Tamarind date cake is a gorgeous relative of sticky toffee pudding, also made with dates but flavoured with the beautiful tang of tamarind paste.
What is tamarind?
Tamarind is a fruit that comes from the tamarind tree. It has a sweet and sour taste and is used in many cuisines around the world.
Tamarind is also used in traditional medicine and as a metal polish. The tree’s wood can be used for woodworking and tamarind seed oil can be extracted from the seeds.
What are some recipes that use tamarind?
Tamarind is a fruit that is commonly used in Asian cooking and baking. It has a sour taste that can be used to add flavour to any kind of dish such as soups, salads, curries, stir fries, dips, barbecue sauce and more.
In Thai cuisine, tamarind is one of the two main sour ingredients, the other being lime.
Besides adding flavour, tamarind delivers another bonus when it's used in a marinade. The fruit’s natural acidity helps to tenderize tougher cuts of beef, breaking down the fibres in the meat. Marinated overnight in a tamarind-tinged liquid, beef becomes succulent and tender - a great technique for less expensive cuts.
Tamarind can also be used as a preservative, a cooling agent and a remedy. Its paste relieves the itchy mouthfeel that comes from eating tubers like yam and taro.
Tamarind is available in pods, blocks, or as a concentrate in the UK. Tamarind juice is also available and some Asian supermarkets may sell tamarind pods which can be eaten raw.
Tamarind cake – or pudding?
Tamarind can also be used in cakes, often combined with dates which it tastes a little like, and/or ginger, for a tangy sweet-sour profile.
This recipe for tamarind date cake is courtesy of Dan Lepard, from his Guardian column. And whenever you see a recipe for a date cake, you immediately think ‘sticky toffee pudding’, right?
Sticky toffee pudding is one of those English dessert mysteries because really, it’s just a date cake. Admittedly it’s sticky when covered in a caramel sauce, but I wonder if it is a pudding. Unless you accept, after the British fashion, that desserts ARE puddings, which will puzzle all the non-Brits.
The pudding debate won’t mean anything to anyone in North America or any of you on the European continent, let alone other parts of the world. You bake a cake. You can serve it cold or warm. And to end the discussion, I’ll declare my sticky toffee pudding nothing but a date cake.
And this is also just a date cake. Only better.
How to make tamarind date cake
The process is very similar to how you make sticky toffee pudding, aka date cake as agreed above. Chopped dates are simmered with tamarind paste, then butter is added to the warm mix, then sugar and the mixture is left to melt while it cools down.
The next stage can be done by hand, with a balloon whisk, or with an electric mixer if you prefer. The eggs are beaten into the cooled date mix one by one, and finally flour with bicarbonate of soda.
A very runny batter goes into a parchment-lined tin and bakes for a long while: over an hour.
Toppings for tamarind date cake
A simple icing flavoured with cardamom is what I suggest but you can go in the direction of sticky toffee and make a caramel sauce. In which case it should be served warm from the oven or heated up in a microwave, making it thus a pudding!
You can also top it with unsweetened dark chocolate ganache.
But it’s really good just left unvarnished. Cool it down, dust with icing sugar and cut into wedges the next day without heating or worrying that it has to be steaming.
More date cake recipes
Date and nut squares, with chunks of Medjool dates and a mix of almonds, pecans and pistachio in rich, chewy batter. There’s a reason why these are called ‘food for gods’.
Honey cake with dates and apples from Nigella Lawson’s collection is not only suitable for Rosh Hashanah: it’s simply the perfect autumnal cake.
Easy recipe for baked Christmas pudding. Traditional Christmas pudding should be steamed, but this version is baked and lighter, using carrots and apple in the mix.