tamarind date cake with cardamom icing

I took the plunge..

I got a job in a cafe. In the kitchen. Preparing food… and baking! For a job! I have to keep reminding myself its real, ha!

toasted walnuts

I know, I know, isn’t that a little overboard? Maybe.. but I NEVER thought this would be me.. I have always been a student. Studying HR. Destined to work in an office. And wear office clothes. And bake only at home.. and on my tight budget… and with my limited kitchen appliances.

dark molasses sugar

Oh wow Christina, how did that come about, you ask? Well..two weeks ago J and I saw a sign on the door of our favourite (and Hamilton’s top) cafe advertising the position of a Kitchen Hand.  J encouraged me to inquire, purely out of interest. Very recently I started playing with the idea of looking for work in a kitchen as I know that is one of the paths to become a chef/baker professionally, and, you know.. perhaps, maybe, I don’t know.. I might possibly like to do that? So I went on in and demonstrated my interest.

And I got it! Okay so I am mostly the dishwasher (you got to work your way up the ranks ok!) which, strangely enough I really enjoy. But so far I have also helped prep a range of foods, including rolling pastry (ah ha – I knew the practice with my lemon meringue pies and xmas mince pies would come in handy..) for making fruit pies for the cabinet, and fingers crossed I will soon be making their divine friands (for which they are most famous amongst my friends, eh Jo!). Yeah, so I just hang out for the sweet things..

So I am pretty excited. I actually get little glimpses of doing this for a job later in life, perhaps working as a pâtissier in French Canada, or who knows, running my own cafe – my style. We’ll see :) In the meantime I am loving using the new skills and inspiration in my own kitchen. I definitely need to work on my knife skills slash cutting a dozen onions while tears stream down my face and blur my vision… yeah not ideal when handling a huge chef knife with amateaur knife skills..

Anyhow, in continuation from my tribute to Dan Lepard, here is recipe attempt número uno – Tamarind Date Cake. According to Dan it is one of the best date cakes ever, with sour tamarind concentrate, soft dates and toasted walnuts, and an icing spiced with cardamom. Yeah, it was pretty darn awesome. Even better the next day once the flavour had infused more and the cake became more moist.

cardamom - freshly ground

Dan says: “This one’s in the running as the best date cake ever. I’ve assumed you have a mortar and pestle, for grinding the cardamom – a bit cheeky, but it does give a much better flavour than pre-ground.” Oh so true.

Tamarind Date Cake by Dan Lepard – recipe here.

the best date cake ever

 My next Dan Lepard project is his chequerboard biscuits and dark chocolate mousse. 

11 thoughts

  1. Yay, congrats on the job!! Thats awesome, you will be amazing. Let me know where you work (and what you’ve made!) and that’s totally my next cafe stop :)

  2. Congratulations on your job – so exciting. And please share if you discover any tricks to make onion chopping less tearful.

    I love tamarind, and I love ingredients popping up where you wouldn’t expect them. Sounds like a superior date cake!

  3. Christina, that is SO COOL. You are brave! :-)

    Whereabouts in Hamilton are you? Let me know by email if you don’t want to post it… I will be going up for a wedding in a few months, and also have some friends in Hamilton so I’ll be sure to ask them to visit you for me.

  4. Pingback: amaretti chocolate layer cake « De La Casa

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