Dates are a wonderful sweetener, making the most of all those natural fruit sugars. So, when they're combined with raisins, sultanas and apple, well, there's no need for any added sugar at all! This is a real bonus in a world where it seems that almost everything is packed full of unnecessary 'added sugars'.
This is a recipe by Annie Bell which I came across in the Sainsbury's Magazine while I was looking for a low sugar Birthday Cake. It is so rich and fruity, and it could be iced if you wanted to, but seeing as I was trying to cut down on the added sugar on this occasion, that would definitely have defeated the object!
I must admit, that as it emerged from the oven in it's tinged paper shroud it really didn't look like the prettiest cake I've ever seen!
But, once it was cooled and dressed up with Spring flowers it was special enough to grace any table.......Happy Birthday Mum!
Date and Apple Cake
300g unsalted butter
340ml apple juice
300g dates - pitted and chopped
1 bramley apple - about 300g - peeled and grated
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
150g ground almonds
150g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
finely grated zest of 1 lemon & 1 orange
Heat the oven to 150C / Gas 2. Butter a 20cm round loose bottom tin and line with baking parchment. Melt the butter with the apple juice, and then stir in the fruit. Bring to the boil, and then simmer for 5 minutes. Transfer this to a large mixing bowl and stir in the bicarb, which will fizz madly! Leave the mixture to cool for around 10 minutes.
Beat the flour, almonds, nutmeg, and zest into the fruit and then pour into cake tin.
As there is so much fruit in the cake it will burn easily, so to protect it while cooking, cut out a sheet of baking parchment that will fit over the tin and halfway down the sides. Cut a hole out of the middle of this paper the size of a 50p piece, and then butter the paper to prevent it sticking to the cake! Lay the paper over the cake and secure with string. Wrap a double layer of parchment around the sides of the tin and tie this in place too.
Now bake the cake for 2 and a half to 3 hours, covering the top of the cake with another layer of parchment if it needs it. It will be cooked when a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.This luscious, moist cake will keep in an airtight container for three weeks - if it lasts that long!