Baking that evokes or makes memories

Sticky date anything always seems to be a winner and this simple luscious cake is no exception.

It is light but at the same time quite densely moist. The dates enrich the cake’s deep, delectable texture and the grape juice provides the tang.

As a child, I remember very vividly the warm, comforting and homely smell of baking wafting through the house. As a result of all this activity, the cake tins were always full despite the fact that a number of ingredients were in short supply.

Afternoon tea was always quite an occasion. Sometimes we accompanied our mother to what was essentially a ladies afternoon tea.

We, the children, had our eyes glued to the tea trolly. What would we choose?

I've recently talked to a number of friends about this and they too remember the rule. We were allowed to choose two pieces from the tea trolly and only two.

This was the time when children were encouraged to be seen and not heard, so of course, there was no discussion on whether we liked what we had chosen.



Sticky date and grape juice cake

Makes 16 slices

270g pitted dates, halved

250ml dark grape juice

50g butter, roughly chopped

2 Tbsp treacle

120g dark cane or brown sugar

¾ tsp baking soda

2 large eggs, size 7, lightly beaten

190g plain flour

2 tsp ground allspice


Preheat the oven to 170degC.

Lightly oil the sides of a 20cm ring tin and line the base with non-stick baking paper.

Combine the chopped dates and the grape juice in a microwave proof bowl. Cover and microwave on full power for 3 minutes.

Stir in the butter, treacle, dark cane sugar and baking soda. The baking soda will cause the mixture to froth up.

Set the bowl aside to cool.

Pour the lightly beaten eggs into the date mixture and stir to combine. In a medium-sized bowl sift together the flour and the allspice. Make a well in the centre and pour in the liquid ingredients. Stir gently until well combined.

Pour into the prepared cake tin, smooth the top and bake in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes, or until the top feels firm to the touch and a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. To loosen, run a knife between the edge of the cake and the tin.

Invert on to a plate. Peel off the baking paper then turn right side up on to a serving plate. Decorate with edible flowers if you wish.

Serve just as it is or with whipped cream or yoghurt. Cuts into 16 slices.

The cake will keep in a cool place in an airtight tin for about a week.

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