I know that this sounds too good to be true . yes, low fat, sugar and dairy free, but everyone who has tried this always asks me for the recipe as it really is delicious. If you use the optional brandy it really makes it very special. the original recipe is from my favourite vegetarian writer Rose Elliot and is from her new book Rose Elliot’s New Complete eater.
The cake also freezes well (as with it being sugar free does not keep quite as well as a traditional cake).
You can also make this cake with gluten free flour for coeliacs.
A really good, dark rich cake particularly if you use prunes in it and a very credible substitute for a more diabetic friendly Christmas cake.
225 g chopped (sugar free) dates
275 ml Water
450 g Mixed dried fruit (I use a combination of Sultanas, Raisins, Currants, Prunes, Apricots, unsweetened Cherries etc what ever are your favourites – chop up any big pieces of fruit)
175 g wholemeal flour (or gluten free if preferred)
1 tbsp Cacoa Powder (or unsweetened cocoa or carob powder) – optional
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Allspice
1/4 tsp Ground Ginger
A few gratings of a fresh nutmeg
Or use 1 to 1.5 tsp mixed spice
grated rind of an orange or lemon
40 g Ground almonds
4 tbsp fresh orange juice (you may need a splash more depending on how soft your dried fruit is)
1-4 tbsp brandy – optional but nice if you are making this as a Christmas cake
Whole almonds (or walnuts or Pecans) to form a topping
- preheat oven to 160 C. Line a 900g (2lb) loaf tin with baking parchment
- put the dates and water into a small saucepan and gently bring to a simmer and look on low for some minutes until the dates are soft and have absorbed the water. Mash them up a bit with a wooden spoon. Add in the orange juice.
- mix the dried fruit, flour, cacoa powder and baking powder along with the spices and a pinch of salt in a massive bowl.
- mix in the dates and lemon or orange zest and mix well to mix. If necessary add in a little extra orange juice to make a sticky’ish mix
- Stir in 1 or 2 Tablespoons of brandy if you like – this is especially nice if you are making this for Christmas.
- the mix should be stiff but not too dry.
- turn out into the prepared loaf tin and make a pattern on the top with your nuts of choice.
- Bake in the oven for 1 1/2 hours – but check after 1 hour 20 minutes. Insert a skewer into the centre which should come out clean.
If the nuts look like they are browning too much place some baking parchment or foil very loosely over the top of the cake for the last 30 minutes of cooking.