One of the things about being sick is that it makes me not want to cook. All I want to do when I'm sick is sit on the couch and watch Desperate Housewives reruns on Lifetime. It's pathetic. I know it.
But I was feeling a little bit better yesterday, so I decided to try baking something. I had some leftover dates from my trip to Jackson Heights and some assorted nuts in the fridge. I flipped through my Moosewood cookbook (it really is the best cookbook) and happened upon the recipe for Date-Nut Cake. Perfect.
As I started making it, I realized that the recipe called for separating eggs and folding egg whites into batter! Ack! If you may notice (I'm sure you didn't notice this - only crazy people would notice this), I never try recipes where that happens because every time I try it, I fail. Massively. Like, throw out the cake, burn the pan, hide in shame fail. This has happened more than once. But today, I figured, I have grown. I have confidence. I can do it!
Date-Nut Cake (from the Moosewood Cookbook)
butter and flour for the pan (I'm out of butter, I used oil)
3 eggs, separated and at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup very finely chopped nuts (I used almonds - walnuts or pecans would be good too)
1 cup chopped dates
I chopped my dates and nuts in the food processor - I truly love my food processor. Here they are:
1/2 pint heavy cream or 1 cup ricotta (I used cream because it's cheaper and I'm poor)
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 to 3 Tbs powdered sugar
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9 inch cake pan. I only had an 8 inch pan. I was certain that this would spell my doom. But I soldiered on.
2. Separate the eggs. As soon as started cracking and separating the eggs, I felt better. Cold, schmold. Beat the egg whites with an electric mixture until stiff but not dry. I don't really know what that means. But I guessed it meant this.
3. In another bowl, beat the egg yolks with the sugar and vanilla for several minutes until smooth and thick. Several minutes seemed excessive to me. I think I did maybe one or two.
4. Stir the flour, salt, nuts and dates into the yolks and blend well. This seemed really thick to me.
5. Here comes the scary part - "gently fold in the beaten egg whites." First I rewhipped the egg whites for a few minutes because they seemed a little runny. Then I started mixing them in. Gently. I tried to be confident. Egg whites can smell your fear.
I did it! It looked pretty good to me....but who knows.
6. Pour the batter in the pan and bake for 40 minutes.
Here it comes.....what does it look like?
Woo! My cake looks like cake! Score one for me. I had to eat some right then to prove that I did it. It tastes like cake too! Then I let the cake cool.
You're supposed to let it cool and flip it out onto a serving platter.
Now whip your cream with the vanilla and sugar, and spread it on top of the cake. Then serve it cold.
Honestly, I liked it better hot without the cream. But it was pretty good with the cream as well. I mean, whipped cream is good.