Prior to making this cake, I had never tried dates before, sounds silly but they never really appealed to me. When I saw them in the supermarket I knew that it was time, and there was a recipe that I just had to make. Funnily enough, it has become my favourite recipe so far from the Baking Bible. It seems to me to be an incredibly versatile bake; it was great on its own with a cup of tea, it worked as a pudding with ice cream, it can be taken for a picnic and the best part I think, was the small amounts of added butter and sugar. It was easy to make, pretty much chuck it all into the bowl and mix together then leave in the oven, so can be made in advance for any occasion.
Although it is very rich and dense with the dates, milk and nuts, it doesn’t feel as naughty as it probably should. It’s something I would consider to be a ‘no thrills’ cake, but it delivers wonderfully on flavour every time. It keeps well if stored in an airtight container and produces a huge loaf – so it will be a good thing to make at the beginning of the week and enjoy as the days progress.
- 150 g stoned dried dates
- 150 ml boiling water
- 150 g plain chocolate
- 40 g softened butter
- 150 g brazil nuts
- 225 g plain flour
- 40 g caster sugar
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1 egg
- 150 ml milk
- Demerara sugar, for sprinkling
- Preheat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas mark 4. Grease a 2 lb loaf tin then line the base with parchment.
- Chop the dates roughly and place in a small bowl; pour over the boiling water and leave to soak for 30 mins. Meanwhile, break up the chocolate and melt with the butter in a small bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Roughly chop the brazil nuts and reserve 2 tbsps for decoration.
- Add the flour, sugar, baking powder, bicarb to a large bowl and mix together. Mix the egg and milk together (I did this in the jug), then add to the dry ingredients along with the nuts, dates and their soaking liquid, and the chocolate mixture. Spoon into the tin, level the surface, sprinkle over the reserved nuts and Demerara sugar.
- Place on the middle shelf of the oven and bake for roughly 1 hr and 15 mins or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. If the cake becomes too brown before fully cooked, cover loosely with foil. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 mins before turning out, peeling off the baking parchment and leave to finish cooling on a wire rack.