Saturday, September 21, 2013

Fortnum and Mason's Date and Nut Loaf

On a recent shopping excursion with my friend Sandra, I found the cutest little book called Tea at Fortnum and Mason at Wilkins and Kent.  Its cover is in signature Fortnum and Mason duck egg blue and gold, and it has some of the loveliest teatime recipes you will ever see.  I want to make all of them!

I decided to start off with Date and Nut Loaf (well, actually Date and Walnut Loaf, but I used hazelnuts instead) from p109 of the book.  It involves soaking dates in tea, then mixing them into the cake batter with nuts, and lo, you have a delicious cake:

My cake did sink a little in the middle (only the second time in my life that has happened) - it may have been because I added too much baking powder as I guess-timated how to convert my plain flour into self raising flour, and maybe it rose just a tad too fast.  No matter - the end result was delicious (this was pre my low carb diet), and no-one at work complained. It has a deep caramel flavour, with depth added by the tea and some crunch from the nuts.

To make this lovely cake,  you will need:

125 g butter
100ml freshly brewed tea (I used my friend Camilla's wedding guest gift tea) 
50 g dates, pitted and chopped
175g dark brown sugar
2 eggs
75g wholemeal flour
125g self raising flour (I used 100% plain white flour)
1 teaspoon baking powder
zest of 1 orange
100g chopped nuts
1 tablespoon Demerara sugar

Preheat your oven to 180⁰C. Grease a 900g loaf tin and line it with baking paper.

Pour the tea into a small bowl and allow the dates to soak in it for 20 minutes or so.

Cream the butter and brown sugar using a stand mixer, then add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Fold in the flours, baking powder, orange zest, dates and the tea and 75g of nuts. Pour the mixture into the prepared  loaf tin and sprinkle with the remaining walnuts and Demerara sugar. Bake for 1 hour or until cooked through.

Remove the cake form the oven and cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Enjoy with your favourite cuppa!