If you like sweet, sticky Middle Eastern sweets but don’t want to spend too long in the kitchen preparing them, you’ll enjoy these quick and easy pan-fried date cakes. The flavour is reminiscent of the sweetmeats found in Lebanon and Morocco.
If you are vegan, substitute butter with light, unflavoured oil like sunflower, omit the honey and add a splash of orange juice with a little finely grated orange rind instead.
Add orange flower water only if you have it on hand: no need to buy it especially for this recipe, which will taste good without it anyway. Serves 4.
6 oz/ 150g plump, juicy, smooth-skinned dried dates
4 oz/ 100g whole almonds
4 oz/ 100g plain white flour
1 tablespoon orange blossom honey (or other honey)
2 teaspoons orange flower water (optional)
3 oz/ 75g butter, melted, plus more for greasing
1 oz/ 25g sesame seeds
Plain yoghurt, double cream or vanilla ice cream
1. Remove the stones from the dates. You should be left with approx 4 oz/ 100g date pulp.
2. In a food processor, pulverise the almonds until they are coarsely crushed but still retain some texture. Add in the dates, and whizz again.
3. Add flour, honey, orange flower water if using, and about half of the melted butter and whizz once more. Make sure everything is mixed thoroughly, but do not overprocess as the little cakes will lose their texture.
4. With lightly greased palms, shape the date mixture into medium-sized patties. You should have around 10 to 12.
5. Spread the sesame seeds on to a plate, and roll the patties in them until they are evenly coated.
6. Heat the remaining butter in a non-stick frying pan. Fry the patties for 2 or 3 minutes on each side until lightly golden. Drain on kitchen paper.
7. Serve hot with yoghurt, cream or ice cream, and a drizzle of honey. Some sliced fresh or grilled bananas (or grilled oranges) would also go well with these cakes.