So this might be the third post in a row with a recipe from Donna Hay’s “The New Classics” but I promise to give it a break next time! As with the other two recipes from the book, Fruit Flapjacks and Pear, Maple and Ginger Tarte Tatin I have made a change to the original recipe. This time I chose not to pour the half a litre of maple syrup over the cake (yes, really) but made a small amount of glacé icing with maple syrup to finish it off instead. If you choose the maple syrup option make sure you use a plate with a deep rim!
I made this cake because my parents were coming to stay for the night (and my dad is a huge fan of dates), before going off to New Zealand to my cousin’s wedding. I don’t think they will mind me saying that they don’t usually like to fly anywhere. Their usual holiday destinations tend to be reached by car either within the UK, or in France. They even once took the ferry to Spain rather than flying and the ferry alone takes around 24 hours. So imagine how surprised I was when they told me they were even considering the invite! They are away for nearly five weeks and will visit San Francisco and Hong Kong as well as the North and South Islands of New Zealand. I am very grateful to my lovely cousin Katie for taking them out of their comfort zone and giving them the opportunity to experience what I am sure will be the holiday of a lifetime while sharing her wedding day. Congratulations and much love to Katie and Julian.
The recipe called for fresh dates but I used dried ones and I didn’t puree them until smooth as I thought it would add texture. Plus the mini chopper I used wasn’t quite big enough for the task and was threatening to leak all over the kitchen top… I think the added texture was a bonus. Apart from blending the date mixture, this cake really is a simple as mixing the dry ingredients with the wet and baking.
230g pitted, chopped dates
80g chopped sultanas
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
180ml boiling water
225g SR flour
130g brown sugar
150g butter, melted
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
500ml maple syrup extra, or:
2 heaped tablespoons icing sugar, seived
Maple syrup and water to mix.
Set the oven to 160ºC.
Grease, and line the base of, an 8″, loose-based cake.
Put the dates, sultanas and bicarbonate of soda into a bowl and cover with the boiling water. Leave to sit for about ten minutes.
Use a hand-held blender (or mini chopper) to blend the mixture either to a chunky or smooth purée.
Put the flour and sugar into a large bowl and mix well.
Mix together the butter, maple syrup, vanilla extract and eggs and add them to the dry ingredients along with the date mixture. Mix well to ensure it is properly combined.
Pour the mixture into the cake tin and gently shake to level:
Bake for around 50 minutes, or until well risen and brown and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
Allow to cool in the tin for around ten minutes and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
For the topping:
If you want to use the maple syrup, put it in a saucepan and cook for around 10 minutes until it starts to thicken. Allow to cool and then pour the warm syrup over the cake to serve. It would make a lovely dessert.
If you would like to make glacé icing, when the cake is completely cold mix no more than a teaspoon of maple syrup at at time into the icing sugar. You might want to add a little water also to get the icing to a runny consistency.
Drizzle over the cake either using a spoon or an icing bag with a very small nozzle. You can also fold a piece of greaseproof paper, roll it into a cone and cut off the end to make a little icing bag.
Here’s to wonderful wedding and a wonderful holiday!