Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Date Cake Delicious

I love old recipes for a variety of reasons. The biggest one is that they reflect the tastes and available ingredients of the times and are a window into how people lived before our current state of abundance. Another is a reflection of what they grew up with and were acculturated to enjoy.

I've been watching a series of YouTube videos about 18th century cooking and the Fred-Rogers-like host has mentioned how tastes used to be far simpler than they are now. Our palates are trained for strong flavors and we find food which isn't refined to suit them bland. However, in the past, people were satisfied with far less complexity than we are. I wanted to see how this bread stood up to my modern palate, especially since it is curiously low in fat, and because I had a ton of dates lying around that could use a good home folded into bread.

The strangest part of this recipe was that you melted or mixed fat into the hot water that the dates were hydrated in. This seemed an odd choice as coating the dates seemed less important than the flour, though I guess the flour was bound to get some of it as well. As a result of the low fat nature, this bread was drier than I would have liked and less "cake-like" than promised. Mine looked like this (yes, it makes two loaves):

The flavor of this was excellent, however. I loved the nutmeg and cloves (though, actually, I used allspice as that's what I had on hand). I skipped the pecans because my husband doesn't like nuts mixed into his quick breads and I hoped he might like this (he didn't).

I really liked the flavor of this, but the texture just didn't thrill me. I think next time that I will use more fat. My plan is to double the fat and make half the recipe for only one loaf next time and see how that works out. If you like dates, this recipe definitely has potential and the flavors are sufficiently complex even for a palate that wasn't cultivated in the 1920's.