02 November 2010

A Tribute to Café Moto ... and Israeli Cuisine

The Brooklyn trip a few weeks ago was such a fun and relaxing time. It's always nice to see your kid's 'world' - where they work, who their friends are, what the apartment looks like, where they get their milk and bread, and what their neighborhood is like. If you're a parent, you know the drill. Smile, nod, check things out, and don't ask too many questions.  So, we went, we saw, and we came home happy with good memories and a settled feeling about our girl and her new job, new digs, and new neighborhood.                 

Getting Nathan's hotdogs and sunshine by the Coney Island shore

Our Kate had a nice mellow itinerary for Silent Bob and I - dinner out at a neighborhood burger joint the first night in town, a Saturday morning shopping jaunt to the Farmer's Market in her Brooklyn neighborhood, a PM tour of Section 3 of  The High Line, walking the Greenway down into Chelsea and then meandering along the completed section of The High Line, cooking dinner in and watching a movie on Saturday evening, the MOMA Counterspace exhibit and then a hotdog from Nathan's and a stroll on the boardwalk at Coney Island followed by a leisurely Sunday dinner out at Café Moto, a small restaurant in Brooklyn, plus after dinner drinks in Kate's little garden space to end the evening. Lovely, relaxing, mellow ... who knew it was possible in NYC?

Foodie Brooklyn Kitchen meets MOMA's Frankfurt Kitchen

The foodie highlight of the weekend was Café Moto's warm date cake soaked with an incredibly rich toffee sauce and topped with a dollop of whipped cream. Kate and her friend ordered a glass of port to accompany it - inspired! I came away thinking, 'I could make that!' . So, I've been doing my homework and have found a likely recipe on-line. It comes from Janna Gur's book of Israeli cooking and looks simple and straightforward !

Let's just see about that!

MOMA - Kitchen as Art - Tom Wesselmann's Still Life #30

This girl's kitchen is in no way as colorful as the above take, but my counters are just as cluttered as that table!  I have beautiful dates, some good brandy, vanilla beans, and the staples to make the cake and toffee sauce all lined up at my work station. Perhaps 'lined up' is a bit of an exaggeration...

courtesy of Janna Gur

Cake Ingredients:

1 lb. 2 oz pitted dates
1 quart water
2 tbsp. baking soda
14 oz. butter
14 oz. sugar
7 eggs
1 vanilla pod, slit open
1 lb. 6 ½ oz. flour
2 tbsp. baking powder
Toffee Sauce:
2/3 c. dark brown sugar
2 oz. butter
3 oz. heavy cream
3 oz. milk
1 teaspoon brandy

Making the Cake:

1. Mix the dates with the water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, add the baking soda, mix, and set aside.

2. Pre heat the oven to 340 ° F

3. Beat softened butter with the sugar until light and creamy. Add one egg at a time, beating well between each.

4. Slit open the vanilla pod and scrape the seeds into the egg mixture. Save the pod for the toffee sauce.

5. Sift the flour with the baking powder and add gradually to the egg mixture

6. Mash the dates in the water and fold into the batter.

7. Grease three loaf pans or one 13 x 9 inch pan.

8. Pour the batter into the pans, filling to ¾ level.

9. Bake until a toothpick comes clean.

Making the Toffee Sauce:

1. Bring all the ingredients except the brandy to a boil. Add the reserved vanilla pod. Cook for 5 minutes. When thickened, remove from heat and stir in the brandy.

2. Serve warm sauce drizzle over warm date cake.

3. Top with a dollop of whipped cream and a mint leaf.

Notes: I halved this recipe and I still came away with a lovely oblong cake ... 8 x 11 inches. Do what you will! My thought is that this recipe would be spectacular baked in popover pans, and flipped over with a small melon ball scoop taken from the top, caramel sauce filled and drizzled a la volcano with the whipped cream plopped at the side with mint leaf. Forgive my Martha Stewart tendencies...


  1. Reminds me a bit of the pumpkin ginger bread recipe I pulled off the internet to make for company dessert last night (http://www.bhg.com/recipe/cakes/pumpkin-gingerbread/). Served in a puddle of caramel sauce with a dollop of whipped cream. Hmmm... Not really appropriate lunch food, but the left overs are calling me. And I want to try this recipe soon. A perfect late fall/early winter dessert.

  2. this looks so much like an English pudding, especially with the sauce poured over it... I imagine it would be nice with a banana custard too!

  3. @ Dom - Oh! So true!

  4. Moto's Date Cake is my favorite cake in the world! I wanted to make it for my blog's 1st birthday this weekend. I'm so glad to find a recipe that is similar! I hope you don't mind my using this recipe...I'll be sure to credit you and Janna Gur in the post, with links!


Anonymous comments will not be accepted. Please be aware that due to spamming concerns, I must be able to track back. Use your Google account ID to comment.