Going to dinner at someone’s house usually involves bringing something. A bottle of wine, and appetizer or a dessert are usually appreciated contributions to a meal when you are the guest. We recently had some friends over for an Indian meal and our guests brought a delicious spice cake for dessert.
Most spice cakes are generally a bit heavy on cinnamon and also include one or more other spices such as allspice, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger. They are also typically iced. This cake was only topped with some decorative orange slices. Our guests did prepare some spiced whipped cream to go with he cake, but that was optional.
What makes this cake different is the use of the Chinese-Five spice which is a blend of cinnamon, cloves, fennel, star anise, and Szechwan peppercorns. Some recipes also contain ginger, nutmeg, and licorice. It may sound odd but it tasted really good and had a nice texture. The peppercorns and star anise gave this cake a unique and really interesting flavor that wasn’t too sweet or overpowering. You can also use Five-Spice in many Chinese dishes and I recommend adding some to your spice collection.
You may be asking why not add the star anise and peppercorns to the regular spice cake – well, it’s all about the proportions. Life and cooking is a balance and Chinese-Five spice has a good balance of flavors without any one overpowering the others.
My wife, who isn’t the biggest fan of cinnamon, really enjoyed the flavor of this cake. We also enjoyed the evening with friends even more. So next time you are invited to someone’s home for a meal, don’t forget to bring something to share. Live, Laugh, Love, and Eat cake!
Courtesy of Deborah Madison from the cookbook Vegetable Literacy
Serves 8 to 10
Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Brush 8-inch fluted tart pan with removable 2-inch sides or round gratin pan with butter, dust with flour (or line bottom with parchment). You can also prepare in a Bundt pan that has been greased and dusted.
Whisk together the flours, sugar, baking soda, five-spice powder, salt, and nutmeg in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the honey, eggs, remaining butter, and buttermilk. Pour the honey mixture into the flour mixture and combine them quickly using a rubber spatula and a light touch. Add the dates and fold them in.
Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake in the center of the oven until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes.
If using a tart pan, remove bottom from sides while hot and cool completely on a rack before serving.