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There is something about the combination of dates—haunting in their sweetness melded with the faintest taste of harshness—and caramel syrup, with a thick date syrup poured over it. This tantalizing combination is sheltered in a crust infused with lemon to delight the senses.
Something about the combination? A whole load of somethings! This dessert is a combination of a host of sweet and sugary goodness, but the dates lend it a distinctive flavor—and maybe even take away some of the guilt from it. They form the keystone of it. The filling is smooth and well-blended, forming a not-quite cake, not-quite-pie batter that caresses the tongue with its delightful mixture of resilience and softness. A caramel sauce, with a luxurious amount of butter, forms a sweet top. And the best of all is a deep and rich serving sauce, formed from a lengthily boiled date syrup mixed with sugar and vanilla. All combine to make a large, decadent, and superbly good pie.
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I integrated some parts from different recipe books, adapted, and added in some of my own innovations that were done completely by myself to produce this recipe. The two principal recipes used are from The Viennese Pastry Cookbook by Lilly Joss Reich and Rose Water and Orange Blossoms by Maureen Abood. I advise looking at both books to see their quite different recipes and how I have modified them.
- 2 cup flour
- 1/3 cup + 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 lemon rind of
- 1/4 cup + 1/4 cup + 2/3 cup butter
- 3 egg yolks
- 24 medjool dates, pitted
- 1/4 + 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon + 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 teaspoon orange blossom water
- whipped cream, (optional but recommended)
- Mix together 1 cup flour with the 1/3 cup sugar in a bowl, then add in the grated lemon rind. Make in the center of this a well, then add egg yolks and work 1/4 cup butter butter into the flour. Work it together until it forms a smooth ball, then refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Start making the date filling in this period. If the dates are not already pitted, do so, and chop them finely—especially if your dates do not feel moist and soft. If they are hard and dry, it is of vital importance to ensure that they are as small as possible.
- Combine 4 cups of water and dates in a saucepan over high heat, and bring it to a boil, and when it boils reduce heat to medium for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, add in the 1 teaspoon baking soda(it will foam), and then remove the dates, preserving the water. The dates are now softened enough for use in the rest of the dish, while the date-infused water will be used to make a syrup.
- If enough time has passed, roll out the dough or fit it to cover a pie dish of at least 10 inches. Then place it into the oven at 350 degrees for 10 minutes: it will cook later as well
- Combine together 1 cup flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Whisk together.
- In a separate bowl, beat together 1/4 cup brown sugar with 1/2 cup butter, until it is light and fluffy. Add in 2 large eggs, 1 at a time, beating each time. Then add the dates and and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Once this is combined, add the flour mixture, and beat together until it is smoothly combined.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pastry shell, and bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.
- While it is baking, make the syrups. For the date syrup, combine 1/2 cup sugar, with 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, and bring it to a boil. Keep boiling until it becomes a very thick syrup, which is rich and dark. For the caramel syrup, melt the 6 tablespoons of butter over medium heat, then add 1/8 teaspoon salt, 1 cup heavy cream, 3/4 cup brown sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon orange blossom water. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer, and stir for 5 minutes. Pour it over the date pie which has been removed from the oven, reserving a portion of it if desired for serving. The cake is good both hot and cold. Whipped cream is a good option to serve with it.
© 2018 Ryan Thomas