25: Sticky Toffee Whole-Wheat Date Cake — Everything I Want to Eat
YES THAT’S RIGHT I’M RIGHT BACK ONTO CAKE.
But, like, there’s whole wheat flour and fruit in it, so… healthy?
(No. Not healthy.)
This wasn’t the book I was planning on cooking from this week, but because it was a big week for Game of Thrones, I wanted to bring something Thrones-y feeling to snack on (read: stress-eat) during the episode. And this cake called out to me.
The Assignment: Sticky Toffee Whole-Wheat Date Cake from Everything I Want to Eat: Sqirl and the New California Cooking by Jessica Koslow
**2024 NOTE: This post was written pre-MoldGate and other such iffy business emerged. It was 2019. (OMG, take a deep breath and just remember 2019 for a second. Whew.)
All I want is to just tear through this whole cookbook recipe by recipe. I adore the food at Sqirl, Jessica Koslow’s amazing LA eatery, and as is expected, there are a lot of the gems from that menu featured in the book and more. It’s for the best that the book doesn’t contain the recipe for her Santa Rosa Plum & Flowering Thyme Jam a.k.a. THE GREATEST JAM IN JAMDOM, because I would eat it as much as humanly possible. Once I went through half a jar in a single sitting without even trying. It’s not in season as I write this in April, but once those stone fruits come in over the summer, GET IT.
I could gush about Sqirl and the incredibly inventive foods you’ll find there for a good long time. Koslow is a James Beard Award nominated chef with a new restaurant on the way and another book slated for next year. She’s a full-force BAMF who is terribly impressive and I’m in love with the way she does food.
I want to make every damn recipe in this book, but I gotta start somewhere.
Things to Note About the Recipe:
- I try very hard not to make substitutions when I do these recipes, but sometimes my hand is forced. By which I mean that I had no desire to go hunting down a hard-to-find ingredient like dried currants when the internet told me I could use chopped raisins instead and I had, like, a really big bag of very good raisins at home already.
- I finally got to use my new oven thermometer to accurately read the temp of my oven and DAMN, has it really taken me 6.5 years living in this apartment to determine that my oven runs about 35 degrees cooler than it should?? It would appear so. But now I am armed with knowledge and a thermometer that hangs in my oven. If you suspect your miscalibrated oven is throwing off your bakes, I suggest you do the same.
- The spice blend in this cake is GREAT. It has a bit of a Christmas vibe. It’s funny: A friend of mine referred to this past weekend as Nerd Christmas, what with the release of Avengers: Endgame and “The Long Night” episode of Game of Thrones. But while I was cooking, I realized, “Characters sacrificing themselves for the greater good? The dead coming back to life? This isn’t Nerd Christmas — this is Nerd Easter.” So this was the Nerd Easter cake.
- Before pouring the toffee over the cake, I poked a bunch of holes into the surface with a toothpick, because I really wanted to allow the toffee to soak in and for as little of it to go running off the sides as possible. It not sure whether it actually helped, but it didn’t really mar the look of the cake, being lacquered with sticky toffee and all. And the toffee that did drip onto the tray, I scooped it up and put it back on the cake.
- Having seen a very interesting cake-serving method online, I cut a ring in the center of the cake, and then cut the outer ring into manageably sized and easy to grab pieces rather than long wedges. THIS WAS CLUTCH, and I totally suggest it with a cake of this size and shape.
- FYI, I used a 9-inch springform pan. That was the only 9-inch round pan I had, and it worked quite well.
How did it taste?
Very nice. Went over well with the crowd, and the wheat flour combined with the soaked fruit give it a tender but crumbly effect. Though it seems like it would be awfully sweet with the toffee poured over, it’s not too much at all. It also happens to go very nicely with a glass of red wine.
Would I make this again?
I would, but probably in the winter. The flavor profile definitely gives holiday vibes, and I can absolutely see it going over like gangbusters at a seasonal party.
Do I recommend this book?
I totally do BUT also give the common warning that a lot of the recipes are pretty involved. This was an easy one, but the savory dishes in particular have a LOT of components to them that require separate prep before building them all into one dish. Additionally, the book itself is gorgeous and, outside of the recipes, reads almost like a coffee table book.
What’s the next recipe I want to make from this book?
Like, all of it. I’d love to make the Crispy Rice Salad, but I’m still a bit skittish about frying in lots of hot oil. (It’s splattery, it’s erratic, it really hurts when it hits your skin, etc.) So I’ve got my eye on The Sprouty Pod, which is comprised of mung bean sprouts, crunchy buckwheat, and roasted delicata squash with pomegranate, labneh, and cilantro pistou. Because it sounds great and IDK, I’m trying to make up for starting with something easy.
The spot below my left eye is beginning to twitch, which means it’s time to stop writing for today! Only 5 damn recipes left to go until I hit my 30-book goal!!!