I was looking through the archives, and was struck by how lovely the old food blog entries look. I know, it's largely because Dave took such great photos, but still. I might want to do that again, from time to time.
Turns out, this is one of those times. Sans pictures, though, as Dave wasn't around to take one and I don't know and can't be bothered to find out how to add photos from my iPhone. You will just have to imagine it, I'm afraid.
Anyway. I am from Finland. I married an Englishman. You might think that's slightly unusual and interesting (although why would you? it's not), but the more I think about it, it's actually almost the norm in my family. Two of my mum's cousins married Englishmen many, many years ago, and my great uncle married a lovely Australian lady. The rest of the family seem to take it in turns to move back and forth between Sweden, but that is completely irrelevant to this post.
What is relevant is my Australian aunt. She is interesting in many ways, but one of the things I remember best about her is her date cake. It lives in my memory, shrouded in a veil of both mystery and longing. Mystery, because the recipe was secret so we could never make it ourselves. Longing, because we didn't see her very often, and when we did she would send us off with date cake, not for all of us, but for my dad.
That's right, the Australian date cake was specifically intended for my dad, because he loved it so much. Which wasn't surprising: it was a dark, sweet and moist cake, studded with gooey, sugary nuggets of date. It was kept in the fridge, wrapped in baking paper, and in the afternoons my dad would take it out, slice off a piece, and spread butter on it, following strict Australian instructions. If I was lucky - and at home when it was cake time - I might get a small piece. I still remember the delicious contrast between the sweet dates and the salty sugar - heavenly.
Anyway, I have been dreaming about that cake ever since, grumbling about the unfairness of secret recipes, and then it struck me: the Internet exists. There are no secret Australian cakes, not anymore. I typed AUSTRALIAN DATE CAKE (yes, in caps, I was so very excited and I had to share it with Google) and bang, there it was. Traditional Australian date cake, slice and eat with butter (okay, it said margarine, but, yuck).
So this morning I turned off Diego and told Edwin to join me in the kitchen. We chopped some dates (Edwin ate one but declined number two fairly politely), stirred them with brown sugar and added some butter and boiling water. Then we waited 15 minutes, and added flour, baking powder and vanilla. After 45 minutes in the oven at 200 C, it was ready. The instructions said to let it cool, but I didn't - would you if you had waited twenty years for a cake? I don't think so.
To be honest, I can't be sure that it is completely identical to the original, but it is very, very close. It is sweet, and dark, and full of dates, and tastes divine with butter. Trust me. I have eaten half of it already.
PS: I loved it. Dave liked it a lot. Esther said, so as not to hurt my feelings: "I like it really a lot but maybe not SO much? Or maybe I just need to get used to it?" (she is the sweetest child). Edwin said it looked disgusting and refused to try it. Sigh.