Cardamom-Saffron Sponge Cake

Cardamom-Saffron Sponge Cake

Serves 6

pinch saffron threads
6 soft dates, stoned
5 eggs
150g sugar
1 heaped tsp ground cardamom
pinch turmeric
120g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
butter for greasing
sesame seeds for sprinkling
handful walnuts or other nuts of your choice, chopped

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C. Soak the saffron in 2 tablespoons of warm water for about 1 hour then set aside.
2. Mush the dates with a fork then roll small pieces into pea-sized balls. Set them aside.
3. Beat the eggs and sugar together for about 10 minutes with an electric whisk or in a food processor, until light and fluffy. Add the cardamom and turmeric.
4. Sift the flour and baking bowder into a bowl and with a wooden spoon, fold 1 tablespoon at a time into the eggs. Continue folding as you pour in the saffron water and oil.
5. Grease a round 23cm spring-release or ordinary cake tin with butter and line with greaseproof paper; dust the bottom and sides with a generous sprinkling of sesame seeds.
6. Pour half the cake mixture into the tin, scatter over the tiny date balls, then cover with the remaining mixutre and a last sprinkling of sesame seeds. Top with the chopped walnuts.
7. Bake for 35 minutes until the cake is golden brown on top (a cocktail stick inserted in the middle should come out clean).
8. Cool the cake then release the spring and turn out upside down on to a plate.

Serve with a spoonful of creme fraiche or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

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