Dates are under appreciated and people miss out on the breadth and depth of flavor! My mother-in-law, Bertha Varghese, baked a childhood favorite, Date cake. Her daughter Marie and I recover the recipe here, and I can't help myself, I add a raspberry glaze. I think Bertha would have approved! —Rich Altmaier
For the cake
addl granulated sugar for the caramelization
Preheat oven to 350 F convection.
Line a 9-inch baking pan with parchment paper
Dice the dates. I cut once along the long direction, then 3-4 times cross-wise.
In a small bowl, beat 1/2 the sugar and butter together until light & fluffy, about 3 minutes.
In a large sauce pan, place the 3tbs of sugar and 2 tbs of water, and stir to dissolve the sugar entirely.
Then heat on medium, while occasionally shaking the pan, and let the sugar get fairly dark.
Lower the heat, and carefully stir in the milk, avoiding hot spatter, and stir until the caramel dissolves entirely.
Note: the caramelized sugar will initially harden, but as the milk heats, it will dissolve entirely. Do not boil the milk.
Remove from heat and let cool a bit, below 160F, before proceeding.
Mix in all remaining sugar and stir until dissolved.
Mix in the butter, and stir until dissolved.
Mix in the chopped dates.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, nuts, salt, baking powder, & spice.
Beat the egg and vanilla together, for about 5 minutes, and mix into the liquid.
Lastly fold in the flour to the liquid.
Pour into baking pan and bake for 40-50 minutes, until the center does not wobble when slightly shaking the pan, and the sides pull away a bit. Don't check before 35 minutes or it will collapse!
Leave to cool before applying the glaze.
Adding the glaze:
Place raspberries in a small sauce pan, heat on medium, and smash them a bit with a wooden spoon.
Stir and continue smashing until it reaches a boil. Let it boil a minute or two.
Pour through a strainer to remove the seeds and collect the juice.
Rinse the sauce pan and return the juice to the sauce pan, and add the sugar.
Note: this sugar contains a starch which will cause the stiffening we want!
Heat gently to a boil, then stir regularly, continuing to boil. As it boils it will slightly thicken.
When a spoonful can pour and show it is slightly thicker, remove from heat and immediately spoon over the cake.
The mixture will solidify quickly, so don't hesitate!