It’s taken me a long time to post this recipe, as I wanted it to be a sort of pre-Christmas reflection post on all the excess and wastage and how nice it is in the craziness of the pre-Christmas blergh to reflect on all that is good and simple (with this nice comforting cake!).
But no matter how many times I drafted this blog, I ended up sounding like a preachy old grinch and hit delete, delete, delete! I think it is probably because I have not bought a thing for anyone yet and the impending doom that is pre-Christmas shopping, combined with the irritating smug satisfaction from people who tell me they finished their shopping in October and ordered their food a month ago makes me go all #stabby. So enough already!
This cake is more of a fruit loaf than a cake. It’s dense and moist with a wonderful sweetness from the orange and dates, and the walnuts add a great texture. I love the spices too – and it has BOOZE – it makes it feel like Christmas already. I really enjoy this warmed up with a dollop of mascarpone cheese – artfully plated up (note the diet-sized portions in preparation for the Christmas binge). Equally, it is delightful lightly toasted with butter.
Spicy orange, walnut and date cake
Makes: 1 loaf – serves 10
- 125 g dates, seeds removed
- ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- 200 ml boiled water
- 185 g plain flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons powdered ginger
- 65 g walnuts, roughly chopped
- zest of one orange
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 80 ml orange juice
- 80 ml vegetable oil (or any other plain flavoured oil)
- 125 ml golden syrup
- 120 g icing sugar, sifted
- 2 tablespoons orange juice
- 1 tablespoon Cointreau (or other orange-flavoured liqueur – optional)
- Line a 23 cm x 13 cm x 6.5 cm loaf tin with baking paper.
- Preheat oven to 190°C (170°C fan forced).
- Place the dates in a heatproof bowl, sprinkle with the bicarbonate of soda and just cover with freshly boiled water. Allow to sit for a few minutes to soften, then drain and roughly chop.
- Sift the flour, baking powder and spices into a large bowl with the salt, then stir through the walnuts.
- Combine the eggs, 80 ml orange juice, oil, golden syrup and orange zest in a separate bowl and gently whisk.
- Fold the flour mixture through the wet ingredients until just combined, then pour into the prepared loaf tin.
- Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
- Meanwhile, prepare the syrup by combining the icing sugar with two tablespoons orange juice and the Cointreau.
- Remove the cake from the oven then prick all over the surface with a skewer.
- Pour the syrup over the cake while it is still in the tin.
- Allow to cool completely before removing from tin.
- Serve with a dollop of mascarpone cheese.