It's not often that Hubs asks for anything specific in the food line - except that if I ask what he wants for dinner, the answer is always sausages! LOL! So when he looked at this recent Dan Lepard recipe for Hazelnut Prune Cake, and said he wanted to try it, what could I do but obey? (Don't answer that I could have made him cook it - I think he can cook, but he's never baked a cake and hasn't cooked a meal since the time I was incapacitated after an operation, which was probably 15 years ago!)
Another excuse to give in to him is that I'm baking Dan's Chestnut Brownies again this weekend, and he didn't really like them. He certainly liked this cake, though, and so did I! You do need to like prunes, however, as the other ingredients don't hide the flavour of 300g of prunes - that's a lot of prune in each slice! As usual it was a simple recipe to follow, although toasting and chopping hazelnuts, and snipping sticky prunes into pieces with scissors was quite time consuming.
I had a slight worry that the cake batter was too stiff, bearing in mind the prunes would absorb liquid as the cake cooked, but decided to trust Dan, and not add any extra milk. I used a slightly larger cake tin but the cake still took 60 minutes to cook against the suggested time of 50 minutes in the recipe. While the cake was cooking I dithered about which alcohol to use to finish the cake as I didn't have any brandy; the choice came down to rum or Amaretto and in the end I went with the Amaretto - drizzling about 3 tablespoons over the hot cake, after pricking a few holes with a cocktail stick. This turned out to be a good choice - it really enhanced the nuttiness of the cake.
The finished cake was moist and sticky, and the nuts and prunes really stood out as dominant flavours. However, the brown sugar, nutmeg and a little cocoa, together with the liqueur, gave a subtle background flavour which was hard to identify. A really delicious cake which would make a good Christmas Cake if you want something lighter and moister than a traditional cake.