I love carrot dates cake. The sweetness and a little bite from the carrots and dates, the flavour of caramelized sugar and the warmth of spices make it a perfect cake to be had during tea time or as a dessert. It tastes great just plain. But if you are really looking at something fancy and want to dress it up, then cream cheese frosting is your answer. It pairs beautifully with this cake.
I love baking. My whole initiation into this field of cooking was through baking. When it comes to baked goodies, I love trying out new recipes as well as altering recipes through trial and error to suit my taste buds!
This carrot dates cake is my mom’s recipe and something I have had a lot while growing up. It actually has a close resemblance to the Christmas Cake we make at home as well – mainly due to the use of caramelized sugar and cake spice. This cake is also popular now as a replacement for the traditional Christmas Cake.
Few things to keep in mind
- Prepare before hand: A little bit of preparation can really make the entire process of making this cake very easy. Have your flour and other dry ingredients measured out. Sieve the dry ingredients and flour together and keep it aside.
- Preparing the carrots: Grate the carrots on the largest grater you have, if you like biting tiny bits of carrots in your cake. And then squeeze the grated carrots between the palm of your hands to remove the excess juice. Don’t dry them out completely though! This little step will make sure your cake is moist, but at the same time doesn’t become sticky due to excess liquid content in it.
- Preparing the dates: De-seed the dates and cut them into pieces. You can either cut them fine or leave them a little chunky, depending on whether you want to get a bite of the dates in your cake or not.
- Caramelizing sugar: Caramelizing sugar can be quite a scary process for many. The most important virtue you will need to have for this is patience! I prefer using castor sugar for my bakes – especially for caramelizing sugar. The fine crystals make it much easier as well as faster than regular sugar. For beginners, it is always better to do it on a low flame slowly so that you don’t burn the sugar!
- Eggs – 2
- Sugar – 2/3 cup (135 gms)
- Oil – 1 cup (250 ml)
- Vanilla Essence – 1 tsp
- All Purpose Flour – 1 1/3 cups (180 gms)
- Baking Powder – 2/3 tsp
- Baking Soda – 1/3 tsp
- Cake Spice Mix – 2/3 tsp (Click https://foodtokwithsherin.wpcomstaging.com/2020/01/27/cake-spice-mix/ for the recipe)
- Grated Carrot – 1 cup
- Chopped dates – 2/3 cup
- Sugar – 1/3 cup (for caramelizing)
- Hot Water – 1.5 tbsp (for caramelizing)
Step by Step Process
- Preheat the oven to 165 dec C. Prepare a 7 inch or 8 inch round cake tin or an 8 inch square tin with parchment paper and keep it ready.
- In a pan, slowly melt the sugar for caramelizing. Add sugar in batches. When one batch is almost melted, add the next batch into the pan. When completely melted, it will start changing colour into golden brown and start frothing. As it froths, reduce the heat to low and add the hot water carefully. Be very careful at this stage as the sugar can splutter and if it splashes on your skin, it can cause a burn. The reason for adding hot water is to reduce the splashing as the temperature difference between the water and the caramelized sugar will be lower. Addition of water also stops the sugar from caramelizing further and it doesn’t set hard when it cools down. Take the caramel off heat and keep aside.
- Take the grated carrots and squeeze it to remove the excess liquid. Mix the grated carrots and dates together. Take a tbsp of flour and toss the carrots and dates in it well to coat it properly.
- Beat the eggs in a clean bowl till light. Gradually add the sugar and continue beating.
- Next add the oil and beat till everything is well incorporated and batter is a pale yellow color.
- Sieve the remaining flour, baking powder, baking soda and cake spice mix together and keep it aside.
- Next gradually add the flour mix to the batter and fold it in.
- Finally fold in the carrot and dates into the batter.
- Add the caramelized sugar and vanilla essence to the batter and mix well.
- Pour the batter into a prepared tin and bake in a pre-heated oven at 165 deg C till a skewer inserted in the cake comes clean. Bake for 30 min first. If the top of the cake doesn’t look done, then continue baking for another 15 min. Open the oven door, for checking if the cake is done, only if you see that the sides look done and the top looks more or less firm. If you open the oven before the centre of the cake is almost cooked, you run the risk of your cake falling and not rising!!
- Baking at a lower temperature will take more time to bake, but the cake will more or less have a flat top. I prefer flat top as it helps me cut good looking pieces of the cake and a flat top also reduces wastage of cake if I want to frost it..:)
Enjoy this cake with a cup of coffee or tea or just by itself.