SCHOOL IS TOO BUSY. Like, seriously, too busy.
When I prioritise, I push away my hobbies: cooking, blogging, guitar, sports, craft. So I get more time, but I end up perpetually miserable because I never ever get around to anything pleasurable and I feel trapped.
So this year I have made it a point to just do the fun stuff as well, no matter what.
The result being that I've made a few pretty and arty jewellery pieces, I've cooked and blogged and read old childhood books just for the fun of it.
But of course, I'm left struggling to get everything on my to-do list done.
I can't figure it out... it's like inventing a multi-layered cake singlehandedly and from scratch... every ingredient and proportion has to be measured and changed and tweaked till you get it right. Events, new tasks and challenges- both at home and at school- are thrown in like a sudden malfunctioning mixer, an overheating oven or spoilt eggs and they turn everything upside down, just when you think you're getting the hang of it.
But at least, amidst all of it, I'm having fun. Stuff like this thrills me, and while I don't have time for it all, doing one little thing every now and then just makes me feel good. It's the joy of taking time out and reaping its benefits afterwards: be it cooking something, sharing it and savouring each bite; making something and wearing it proudly; reading something that sparks your imagination and puts a smile on your face; or playing some music and slowing down every inch of your body.
My dad and I made this date cake one weekend morning and we reaped its benefits for at least a week afterwards. I was super proud of my dad for choosing this recipe, because it was so healthy (he invariably just gives me a look when I suggest replacing the white flour with whole wheat, the white sugar with brown or the butter with olive oil.) But for some reason he decided to go full-on health-freak with me, and it made me feel much better about eating the cake for breakfast every day.
This cake starts off crumbly, very moist and soft. It stores well in a box in the fridge, and as the days progress it becomes denser and stickier, while still retaining its moistness. There wasn't a single time I didn't enjoy it.
Just by the way, the slices weren't as huge as in the picture... being my procrastinator self I told myself each night that I'd take a photo of it the next morning, only to see the cake, cut a slab, dig in to it and rush out to school. So when it dawned on me that it was dwindling quickly, I just took the last chunk and photographed it before it was too late. My photos from when it was fresh weren't very good, but I really wanted to show you its original loose crumbliness. So apart from the average-ish last photo, you'll just have to take my word for it.
Bake this. Now. You won't regret it ever ever ever ever.
Whole Wheat Date Cake
Recipe slightly adapted from Saurabhi Nayak from NDTV Cooks
25 - 30 pitted dates
2 cups milk
3/4 cup sugar (we used brown)
2 cups wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup oil (we used olive oil)
1 Tbsp cashew nuts (chopped) (we didn't have cashews on hand, so we replaced them with walnuts- just as delicious)
1 Tbsp almonds (chopped)
Chop the dates and soak in the milk overnight. (If you don't have time to chop and soak the dates, in a microwave safe cup/bowl add the milk and dates, microwave them for 2 minutes and let them cool for 10 minutes.)
Preheat the oven to 220°C.
Blend the soaked dates, milk and the sugar and bring it to a smooth paste.
Pour it into a bowl and add the oil. Add the flour and mix slowly.
Add the chopped cashew and almonds, saving a little for later on.
Line the baking tin with butter paper (I prefer spreading butter all around the sides, tossing in a couple of spoonfuls of flour, turning and tapping the tin to coat the sides evenly, and shaking out the excess flour. It works well and I find it is less messy than using paper)
Pour the batter into the baking tin and sprinkle the saved nuts and almonds on top.
Bake at 180°C for 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. (note: with this cake you'll always have some crumbs... use your own judgement and don't overcook it)
Take it out and let it cool for 10-15 minutes.