Looking for a bit of sweet comfort? Sugar, try this sticky date bundt cake with butterscotch sauce frosting. It will melt and warm your heart at the same time. Her name? Dimity.
I don't often make bundt cakes. I always worry that they won't come out of the tin properly but then I got this brand spanking new bundt tin and I decided to make a Winter friendly cake out of it. I had seen a version of this at a cafe but was too full to try it but the vision of this beautifully tall, proud cake with cascade of caramel icing was unforgettable. I found myself daydreaming about it for goodness sake.
This cake was made for Mochi's vet. We switched vets in the new year and now take Mochi to the Sydney University Vet Teaching Hospital. If you've ever had a vet bill you'll probably feel the pain that we did. While we humans are lucky enough to have Medicare our furry, feathered and scaled friends are not and as it is a teaching hospital, the facilities are top notch but the prices are reasonable. You do need to allow for a bit of extra time as you see a student first and then the qualified vet.
When we first arrived with Mochi with her under tongue lump problem we went straight to see a vet as the students were away for Christmas break. Vet Alison took a special interest in Mochi-she has 9 rescue dogs herself so perhaps it was that but over the next few months she would offer help far beyond the call of duty. When Mochi last went in I decided to bake Alison a cake, a small gesture to say thank you.
Baking a cake for someone is fraught with complications in today's age because you never know if someone eats sugar or is gluten free. I once made sweets for a friend who pushed them away in horror as he was on a diet. I felt terrible for tempting him.
They say there is a scientific reason for wanting to bake for people. It is a form of creative expression-instead of painting or writing, your canvas is a cake or cookies. It also helps express the explicitly unsaid. If someone is going through a tough time or there has been a bereavement, you can show them that you care with a batch of cupcakes. In a Huffpo article about the psychology of baking for other people Susan Whitbourne, a professor of psychological and brain sciences at the University of Massachusetts said, "It can be helpful for people who have difficulty expressing their feelings in words to show thanks, appreciation or sympathy with baked goods."
It also helps you the baker because you focus on something. Baking requires concentration and concerted mindfulness. For some it can help ease negative thoughts or lessen the focus on them. And there is also just the good old fashioned feeling of doing something nice or altruistic for others. According to Project Happiness, "Giving to others releases endorphins which then activate parts of our brain that are associated with trust, pleasure and social connection." I figure I don't get endorphins from exercise but I must get them from baking and if you can say thank you at the same time, it's a win win!
So tell me Dear Reader, are you a baker? Do you cook for people and why do you think you do it? Creativity? To express the unsaid? To focus the restless mind or the good old fashioned feeling of doing something nice or altruistic for others?
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Sticky Date Bundt Cake With Butterscotch Sauce
An Original Recipe by Lorraine Elliott
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 60 minute
- 375g/13ozs. pitted dates, chopped up (ideally in a food processor)
- 1.5 cups boiling water
- 1.5 teaspoons bicarb
- 190g/6.7ozs. butter, softened, in cubes
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 4 eggs, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 1/4 cups cake flour
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- Pinch salt
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 50g/1.7ozs butter
- 2 tablespoons cream
- 120g/4ozs icing or confectioners sugar
Step 1 - Preheat oven to 170C/340F. Butter and flour a 10 cup capacity bundt tin making sure to get in all the crevices. In a bowl or a saucepan place the dates, boiling water, bicarb and butter and stir to combine and break up the dates. Allow to cool for 10 minutes.
Step 2 - Then whisk in the eggs, one at a time making sure they are mixed in well between additions and stir in the sugar and vanilla.
Not an attractive picture, granted ;)
Step 3 - Place the flour, baking powder, ground ginger and salt in a large bowl and whisk to distribute. Then pour a quarter or so of the egg mixture into the flour combining with a spatula gradually adding more. I find that this lessens the lumps rather than vice versa and adding flour to the egg mixture. Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 40 minutes. Allow to cool completely in the tin.
Step 4 - Melt the butter, sugar and cream in a saucepan. Turn heat off and sift in the icing sugar and stir. Use straight away as it will firm up quickly.