Sqirl’s Sticky Toffee Whole-Wheat Date Cake

Sticky Toffee Whole-Wheat Date Cake

Well, that was fun sharing a bit about The Suburban Years. Now, back to my favorite subject: dessert. This Sticky Toffee Whole-Wheat Date Cake from Jessica Koslow and the fine folks at Sqirl gets the honor of being the first cake to break in our new oven. Thankfully, the oven was calibrated properly and the cake turned out perfectly—gooey, caramel-y, and in short, everything I want to eat.

For cake

  • 14 tablespoons/200 grams unsalted butter (1 3/4 sticks), at room temperature, more for the pan
  • 8 ounces/225 grams pitted dates, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • ½ cup/80 grams dried currants
  • 1 cup/130 grams whole­ wheat flour
  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons/80 grams all ­purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ¾ cup/165 grams packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

For sticky toffee

  • ½ cup/170 grams agave nectar
  • ½ cup/110 grams packed light brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons/28 grams unsalted butter
  • Fleur de sel

Make the cake

Heat oven to 325 degrees and butter an 8-inch square or 9-inch round cake pan.

Sticky Toffee Whole-Wheat Date Cake

In a small pot, combine dates, lemon juice and 3/4 cup/180 milliliters water. Bring mixture to a boil, then simmer gently until dates soften and start to fall apart, about 6 minutes. Add currants to the pot and set aside to cool completely.

While date mixture cools, stir together whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger and salt.

Sticky Toffee Whole-Wheat Date Cake

Using an electric mixer, beat butter and brown sugar together on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Mix in vanilla and cooled date mixture, followed by flour mixture.

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The Suburban Years: Move-in Ready

Move-in ready

Before moving in to our new place, I insisted on making it “move-in ready.” While one could have argued, quite strongly I’ll admit, that the house was already good to go, I maintained that a few elements required a refresh before settling in.

Demolition began soon after we received the keys. Tiles were lifted from the kitchen floor, carpet was ripped up from the bedrooms, laminate floors were pulled up plank by plank, and dated lighting fixtures were taken down.

And though it was absolutely horrifying to see our Forever House in extreme disarray for nearly a month, when all was said and done, I was thrilled with the upgrades. Based on our budget and preferences, we prioritized the following renovations before moving in. These fixes not only offered the most bang for our limited bucks, but most importantly, made the place start to feel like our own:

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The Suburban Years: Lessons Learned in Home Buying

Christmas Tree Lane

You should have seen us with our Zillow apps. Every night after June went to bed, we’d get on our phones and scroll through the day’s newly listed homes until our eyelids began to droop. The desire to find our Forever House was intense and wholly consuming. June would grow up in this imagined house. The Astronomer and I would grow old in this imagined house. It had to be just right.

Ironically, I had zero desire to own a home until June came into our lives. I relished the freedom of renting, not having to deal with unpleasantries like clogged pipes and leaky roofs. I also loved how theoretically I could jet off and live abroad again without too much “stuff” holding me back.

A two bedroom apartment held up pretty well until about six months ago, when June’s worldly possessions took over the entire place. It was a claustrophobia-inducing situation that needed to be remedied. And so we scrolled…

916 atchison

The first house we seriously considered and even put an offer on was a recently flipped Spanish-style in Pasadena. The house was situated on a very busy street and the bedrooms were on the small side, but the abundant natural light, new fixtures, and unique architecture had us smitten. Also, the house had been sitting on the market for a while because it was initially overpriced, so the timing was ripe to pounce on a good deal.

We didn’t have a real estate agent at this point in the process, so we took a chance on the random guy showing the place at the open house, which ended up being a big mistake.

Lesson #1: Find a real estate agent you can trust.

Even though our offer was accepted and we even went through with inspections, we walked away from the deal due to a lack of trust between the agent and us. I mean, he tried to tell me that an Ikea-made farmhouse sink was “top of the line.” When there’s this much money on the line, clear communication and trust is paramount.

The Astronomer and I were pretty gun-shy following the Atchison debacle and didn’t make any moves for a few weeks. It wasn’t until we saw an adorable home on Glen Avenue that we were ready to get back in the game.

1805 glen ave

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Welcome to the Suburban Years

moving day - 9.25.16

For the past two weeks, I’ve been struggling with which restaurant to write up next on Gastronomy. I have a substantial queue of eateries to select from, but I can’t seem to focus on anything other than matters of the home. You see, we closed on our first house in late August, and since then, I’ve been positively consumed with renovations and decor.

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