It’s a date: The perfect cake recipe

Eaten at breakfast, or after dinner, this is a cake for any time of day

Coffee date cake – perfect with a cup of tea

Coffee date cake – perfect with a cup of tea

 

This divine cake is a perfect bake for the cake tin. It lasts at least a week and is fitting for any time of the day. A wedge of this date cake first thing in the morning is perfectly acceptable in my view, and it’s equally good in thin slices for after dinner. It travels well so can be wrapped in greaseproof paper and tucked into a lunchbox.

The original Lebanese version of this cake simmers the dates in water but I think earl grey tea, coffee or even orange juice instead can create a gorgeous version. You could even add a splash of Cointreau to the batter.

There’s no need for icing with a cake like this, it stands on it’s own two feet with sweetness from the brown sugar and dates. I love using dates in the kitchen and harnessing their incredible sweetness.

One of my favourite things to eat as a snack or as dessert is a very simplified version of pecan pie. I came across it in a raw food recipe book a few years ago. The recipe simply involved splitting a date and stuffing it with a pecan. When a perfectly plump medjool date is used and a crisp pecan nut there is nothing more delicious or simple and it really does taste like pecan pie.

Often when dates are a little past their best and begin to crystallise I like to make a date paste and use it to sweeten granola or in baking. This cake is another favourite way to use those dates.

My kids refer to this as autumn cake as I always seem to make it this time of year. Dried fruits such as raisins and sultanas are abundant now as Christmas cakes and puddings are being prepared and stored away.

Bracks and fruit cakes are filling and full of energy rich dried fruit. There is always a glorious festive smell in the house when a cake like this is baking; kissed with warm spices like cinnamon or cloves, these fruit cakes are so nostalgic.

As a child I was always disappointed when a cake wasn’t chocolate but now I can see the appeal of a good fruit cake. My kids eat it almost as a last resort and protest through mouthfuls of the stuff even though they love it. I think they just feel obliged to, as I did when I was little. I know that they too will feel nostalgic in years to come and may even come looking for this recipe.

Coffee date cake

Serves 10

200g dates, pitted (stoned)

250ml coffee

1 tsp. baking soda, sieved

150g brown sugar

100g butter, soft

2 eggs

150g self raising flour

½ tsp. ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 180C. Line a 25cm/10 inch with baking parchment.

Chop the dates into chunks but don’t make into a paste. Gently simmer the dates with the hot coffee and bread soda for five minutes in a small pan, stirring all the time until they have softened and the mixture has thickened. Set aside to cool a little.

Beat the butter with the brown sugar till soft and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and mix till smooth and combined. Fold in the flour and cinnamon before finally folding in the date mixture.

Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 30-35 minutes. Be careful not to overcook as you want the cake to remain moist. Leave to stand in the pan for 30 minutes before turning out. Serve warm with cream or yogurt or keep in an airtight tin. Dust lightly with icing sugar and a little cinnamon if you want to dress it up a little.

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