Date and meringue cake

Yields8 Servings
 5 soft dates (100g) pitted and roughly chopped
 ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
 80 ml boiling water
 50 g unsalted brown sugar
 ½ tsp vanilla extract
 90 g light brown sugar
 1 tbsp finely grated orange rind
 2 eggs, at room temperature
 100 g self-raising flour, sifted
 30 g ground almonds
 1 ½ tbsp golden syrup
 35 gals silver pistachios
 150 ml egg whites (about 4 eggs) at room temperature
 220 g caster sugar
 1 tsp white vinegar
 1 tbsp cornflour
 icing sugar for dusting
1

Preheat the oven to 160C/Gas2; line a 24cm round springform tin, with nonstick baking paper; place the dates, bicarbonate of soda and water in a bowl and set aside for 15 minutes to soak; blend until smooth

2

Beat the butter, vanilla, sugar and orange rind together for 10-12 minutes, until pale and creamy; scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition; add the flour, date mixture, ground almonds, golden syrup and pistachios and beat until well combined

3

Spoon into the tin and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted in the centre; allow to cool in the tin

4

Increase the oven temperature to 180C/Gas4; whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form; add the sugar one tablespoon at a time whisking for 30 seconds, before adding more; whisk for a further 6 minutes or until stiff and glossy; scrape down the sides and add the vinegar and cornflour and whisk for 2 more minutes to combine

5

Spread the meringue over the top of the cake and bake for 15-20 minutes or until the meringue is just golden and dry to the touch; allow the cake to stand at room temperature for 15 minutes; gently run a knife around the inside edge of the tin and remove the ring; allow to cool slightly; refrigerate for 2 hours; dust with icing sugar and serve