Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Date and Walnut Loaf

Its 33 degrees here today and I have a huge oven that heats the whole living space rather successfully.
So not a great day for baking... but if you want to eat cake, you have to make it first. So I might be sweltering but I just enjoyed my first slice of date and walnut loaf slathered in butter with a cup of tea. This is one of my all time favourite cakes. The recipe comes from Matthew Evans  and was published in the SMH Good Weekend on 20.9.2008; that was two days after my daughter was born  (Ava who is my little helper in the photo below) - amazing that I was reading the paper and cutting out recipes!

Date and Walnut Loaf
A low-fat cake is perfect for spreading with a thick layer of butter when you serve it. I like my fruit and nuts chunky, so I use big pieces of walnut and whole dry dates (not those soft expensive ones). If you don’t have don’t have dark brown sugar, use a little treacle, molasses or golden syrup in the mix to add some depth.

My little helper and all the ingredients
50g butter
150g (~1C) dark brown sugar
250ml water
generous pinch of salt
250g (~1 ½C) pitted dates
1 tsp bicarb soda
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 egg, lightly beaten
300g (2C) self-raising flour (or 2 C plain flour + 4 tsp baking powder)
100g walnut pieces

Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease and line a loaf tin or two log-style tins or similar.

Put butter, sugar, water, salt and dates in a decent sized saucepan and bring to the boil. Be careful with the size of the saucepan because when you add the bicarb it can froth up to more than double its volume. Remove from the heat and immediately add the bicarb and stir. Allow the date mixture to cool until about body temperature, then fold in the vanilla, egg, flour and walnuts and tip into tin.

Bake for 40-50 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean, reducing the temperature if its dark on the outside and not yet cooked inside. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes and then on a wire rack. Serve at room temperature with butter for spreading.

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