One year ago today, I took a bag of flour down from the cabinet to make homemade pasta for my very first blog post for Brooklyn Salt. I mixed an egg into the flour until it turned into sticky dough which I rolled out with an empty wine bottle from the recycling bin. I cut thin strips of dough and dropped the flour-dusted strands into boiling water and watched them firm up. Then I coated the pasta with butter and basil, took a picture, posted my recipe and Brooklyn Salt was born. Brooklyn Salt has helped me realize that I was not at all as knowledgable about cooking as I thought as I was. In fact, I knew squat. Over the past year, thanks to all the cookbooks I checked out of the library, I've developed pretty rad knife skills and I've learned proper cooking techniques and tricks. I still have a long way to go but I’m excited about how much I’ve gained from the food blogging experience.
I wanted to celebrate Brooklyn Salt’s first birthday with one of my favorite cakes. Moto, an itty bitty, triangular restaurant in Williamsburg serves a date cake that tastes like warm toffee heaven. At Moto, you’re transported to another place in time as you spoon cake into your mouth and listen to the sounds of the bouncing bluegrass band that has to cram itself into the only available corner near the door. Thankfully I found a recipe for date cake online and was psyched that the results were very similar to Moto’s cake. This is a dreamy dessert to serve to your friends and loved ones on their birthdays. They’ll fall to their knees and thank you for this deep brown cake dripping with warm buttery toffee sauce. Or they’ll just be really happy.
During my photo session, our cat Gozer jumped up onto my perfectly plated cake as you can see in the picture above. I barked the F word like a drunken sailor causing her to flip out, spin her hind legs furiously in the toffee sauce and splatter a syrupy mess all over the table. I followed the trail of toffee footprints to the couch where I found her licking her sticky paws, a sweet reward for her naughtiness. Well, it’s not blog photography day without a Gozer-tastrophy. Happy Birthday to Brooklyn Salt, and enjoy the cake!
(adapted from LauriBot's Date Cake recipe which is adapted from Mommie Cooks' Sticky Toffee Pudding recipe)
Makes 10-13 servings
1 pound pitted dates, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 cups boiling water
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, at room temperature
2 extra large eggs, at room temperature
1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, sprinkle baking soda over dates, toss to coat evenly and then add the boiling water. Set aside.
2. Blend sugar and butter together with an electric mixer. Mix in the eggs. Add in the flour and blend again until all ingredients are incorporated.
3. In a food processor, blend the dates and water until smooth. (If you don’t have a food processor, add an extra 3/4 cup of hot water to the dates and add dates and water to the batter as is). Add date/water mixture to the batter, mixing well. Pour batter into a greased cake pan or cupcake tin. Bake for:
Cake pan: 35-40 mins or until a toothpick, when inserted into thickest part of cake, comes out clean
Cupcake tin: 25 mins or until a toothpick, when inserted into thickest part of cake, comes out clean
4. Meanwhile, make the Toffee Sauce.
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1. Add all ingredients to a sauce pan over medium heat, stirring frequently. Bring to a boil, then turn down heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes, continuing to stir occasionally.
2. When the cake is done, pour warm sauce over individual slices and serve immediately. Don’t pour sauce over any portion of the cake you will not eat as it will get soggy. Store leftover cake separate from sauce. Refrigerate sauce and reheat it when you’re ready to serve more cake.