Thursday, 18 August 2011

Date and Chocolate Loaf

Recipe Number Seventy Seven:  Page 107.

It would appear that I am not the only person consumed by chocolate as this recipe was chosen by those who follow my Facebook page. It was something of a runaway winner; I can only presume the promise of chocolate was all too tempting for some!

I have come across this recipe a fair few times whilst flicking through my now well thumbed Baking Bible. To be honest, the thought of using dates had troubled me. When I was a child I remember we'd buy them for my granddad. In my naivety I assumed that only old people ate them! It was with some reluctance that I headed into a health food shop to buy some pitted dates. My reluctance deepened further when I saw the price. Ouch! I then had a search for some Brazil nuts as they were also needed. I took a very sharp intake of breath when I saw how pricey they were. What an expensive cake this was turning out to be.

The following day I was very keen to get into the kitchen to bake this intriguing loaf. This may have been due to watching the fantastic 'Great British Bake Off' the previous evening. I couldn't help but feel inspired to bake after watching it! I eagerly made a start at 9.30am. I know, I still can't believe I started that early! First of all I needed to deal with the dates. I cut each date into roughly three pieces. This took a while as they are not the easiest thing to slice. In hindsight I think I should have used scissors. Once this laborious task was complete, I poured some boiling water over the dates and left them to soak for around half an hour. While they were soaking, I popped some chocolate and a tiny amount of butter into a bowl and set it over a pan of simmering water. I know of a lot of people who melt their chocolate in a microwave but I have never dared to try. I was brought up with Mary's books, so have always done it her way and I think for me it is the safest option! I left the melted chocolate to cool off a little and weighed out the Brazil nuts. I needed a fair amount, almost the whole packet. Even though they were already chopped (to buy them whole would've been more expensive), the pieces were larger than I liked so I chopped them up a bit more. I am not that fussed by nuts but, by a happy coincidence, Brazils are my favourite!

After all this preparation, I could now move on to making the cake batter. First of all I tipped some flour and sugar into a bowl. I also needed some bicarbonate of soda. I always get a bit excited when I get to use this as I very rarely require it! I poured some milk into a measuring jug and then beat in an egg; I added this mixture to the dry ingredients and whisked it all together until it was nice and smooth. Stirring in the prepared ingredients was the next step. I tipped in the dates and their soaking liquid (that doesn't sound pleasant). Most of the Brazil nuts were also added but I needed to keep back a little for decoration. The last thing to be included was the yummy melted chocolate. When everything had been stirred together, I became concerned as the mixture was rather runny. I double checked the list of ingredients in the book but I couldn't see that I'd made a mistake. When the mixture was in the loaf tin I sprinkled over the reserved Brazil nuts and some Demerara sugar. I put the cake into the oven, shut the door and hoped for the best.

Mary suggests a cooking time of around one hour and 15 minutes. After 20 minutes I couldn't help but take a peek through the oven door. I couldn't believe how much the cake had risen; it was massive! I prayed that it wouldn't sink once out of the oven. When the cake had been cooking for an hour, I decided to follow Mary's advice and place some foil over the top of the cake as it was starting to look a little over cooked. In the end the cake had the full cooking time. Once the cake was cold I could cut a slice to go with my lunch. I found it really tricky to cut as the loaf had risen so much and had an uneven top! The end piece was a bit overdone and dry, but the chocolate flavour was divine. I felt FORCED to cut another slice to make a fair judgement! This slice was so much better, the top had a gorgeous crunch from the nuts and the cake was lovely and moist. The dates gave a slight toffee flavour, while the Brazil nuts were a real feature in this cake; there were a lot of them! Neil nearly fainted from shock when he got home and a cup of tea and two slices of cake were laid out ready for him, I think he wondered what I had been up to! He seemed to really enjoy the cake but he did mention that the Brazil nuts were a little overwhelming. Apart from that he thought it was a lovely moist chocolatey cake. I wouldn't say that this cake has totally cured my aversion to dates, but I'm wondering if eating cakes which contain them is the way forward?!
Think you have to like nuts to like this cake!!


  1. MMM looks lovely, I felt like that about dates b4 I used them in sticky toffee pudding xx

  2. Thanks Jo. Yes, funny how you get a thought stuck in your head! Dates do give a lovely toffee taste to a cake. Ohhh, love sticky toffee pudding. xx

  3. That looks so good! BTW I never melt chocolate in the microwave either. I gave up after a couple of disasters! Sometimes I think the old fashioned way is the best!

  4. Thank you Nicola :-) Glad I am not the only one who does it the old fashioned way. Just don't think it is worth the risk of putting it in the microwave, at least you know it will work the other way!!!