Recipe: Make our gorgeously sticky spiced date and caramel loaf cake

Sticky date, spice and caramel cake Picture: Archant

Sticky date, spice and caramel cake Picture: Archant - Credit: Archant

Feeling the cold? Get baking, put the kettle on and enjoy this week's bake - a sticky loaf cake smothered in caramel.

This week's bake isn't pretty. Not even in the slightest. But once you sink your gnashers into this toothsome, sticky cake you'll forgive me.

Because, you know, not all baked goods have to look Instagram-ready. For me, cooking is all about flavour and this cake delivers it in spades.

It was given to me by my friend Sarah. While I usually cook big, blousy, shouty cakes (often drenched in chocolate), Sarah is more likely to bring to the table a robust carrot cake speckled with nuts and heady with orange zest, or some kind of fruity concoction. These are the kinds of cakes our grannies and parents would have had at tea time. Cakes that hark back to an era when the pace of life was slower. When everything stopped for a brew and a slice mid-afternoon. When it was OK to eat carbs.

These are bakes to bolster. To offer in great, generous hunks after a bracing walk. To keep in a tin for days on end with no fear of spoiling.

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My mum's favourite loaf cake is bara brith, which she used to rustle up frequently in my youth for the local WI and school bake sales.

Sarah's cake has a similar vibe to bara, being low in added fat, and rammed with dried fruit. The high volume of hot water plumps and rehydrates the dates and helps the raising agents work. And touches of spice make it incredibly moreish. It tastes very very similar to a sticky toffee pudding, which is why I've chosen to lavish the top with a good dollop of Tiptree's Salted Caramel Spread.

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In a tin, the cake will keep, and even improve over a few days (if you can resist it), and it is superb warmed slightly in the microwave and served with custard or ice cream for dessert.

It'll become a new, easy favourite in your repertoire.

Gorgeously sticky date and caramel loaf

(Makes 1 2lb loaf cake)


175g chopped pitted dates

80g sultanas

250ml boiled water

200g brown sugar

80g butter or margarine

1 large egg

215g plain white flour

1tsp baking powder

1tsp ground cinnamon

1/2tsp ground nutmeg

1/2tsp ground ginger

1/4tsp sea salt

To finish: Tiptree Salted Caramel Spread


Soak the dates and sultanas with the cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger in the hot water for one hour. Pre-heat the oven to 180C.

Cream the butter with the sugar and beat in the egg, following by the flour, salt and baking powder. Add the soaked fruits with all the liquid. Stir thoroughly and pour into a greased, lined 2lb loaf tin.

Bake for 45 minutes to one hour until well risen, golden and firm. You may want to cover it half way through.

Remove to a cooling rack, allow to cool completely and smother with caramel spread.

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