Sunday, 1 May 2016

Date, Banana and Rum Loaf

Gluten-free and dairy-free.

This Date, Banana and Rum Loaf, found on the BBC Good Food website, could be considered a healthy cake, as it has no added fat or sugar. The natural sweetness comes from almost 800g of fresh and dried fruit packed into the loaf, and the only significant fat is that which is contained in the nuts - 100g of pecans.

I was a little worried about making the cake, as some of the comments on the Good Food website said the cake was quite crumbly, but I needn't have worried. I followed the basic cake recipe closely and made a dense, very moist fruit cake, which even survived being dropped (in it's cake box); quite frankly I was amazed that just the puréed fruit, 100g of fine cornmeal and 2 egg whites made a batter that actually held everything together! In a slight departure from the recipe, I added 1/2 teaspoon of xanthan gum, as it's easy to get hold of now, although it wasn't when this recipe first appeared in 2008; I don't know if it made any difference but it couldn't have done any harm!

One other thing I did, not mentioned in the recipe, was to cut each date in half, cross-ways, before cooking them. I found two stones while doing this, so it's well worth the extra time spent, as unnoticed stones could damage food processor blades.  When I drained the cooked dates I didn't get enough liquid, so I added water to get to the 100mls needed for the recipe. I varied the topping, as I don't really like banana chips - I used the remaining pecans, chopped coarsely, and 4 crushed brown sugar cubes (optional if you don't want to add sugar).

I really enjoyed this cake, but I would leave the sugar off the topping next time. It only added a crunch when the cake was fresh, and quickly dissolved in the moisture from the cake. Unlike a lot of other recipes that rely on the natural sweetness of the ingredients, rather than adding any additional sugar, this cake did taste sweet enough. This is definitely a recipe I'll be using again!

One small criticism - sultanas and raisins are very similar in looks and taste; the cake might have been more attractive and even tastier if a different mix of dried fruit was used. Cranberries, cherries, chopped apricots and/or golden raisins could be used to replace some of the 400g of raisins and sultanas used in the loaf.

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