Egyptian Date Cake
Spellchecker may object to my saying so, but many traditional Egyptian sweets are what you might call desert desserts, based in large part on sweet crops like apricots, grapes, and dates that thrive along the damp margins of the Nile in what is otherwise a hot and arid environment.
In their A World of Recipes: Egypt, Sue Townsend and Caroline Young give this recipe for a spongy, spicy Egyptian date cake:
11oz/325g fresh dates, pits removed
5oz/150g blanched almonds
4oz/100g soft brown sugar
1 orange, washed
4 eggs¼ c superfine granulated sugar
½ t ground cardamom
1 ½ oz/40g butter
1t confectioners sugar
Butter a a 9” springform pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.
In a food processor, blend the almonds and brown sugar until coarsely chopped; add the dates and blend until finely chopped, but not ground.
Grate the orange rind, then squeeze one half of the orange.
Separate the eggs and whisk the whites into soft peaks.
Beat the yolks with the granulated sugar and cardamom; add the date mixure, orange rind, 1T of the orange juice, and the cornstarch.
Gently fold the egg whites into the date mixture.
Spoon the batter into the pan and bake 35-45 minute at 400/200 degrees until the cake springs back with pressed.
Dust with confectioners sugar before serving.