Yields8 Servings
 200 g pitted dates
 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
 2 large eggs
 125 g light muscovado sugar
 1 tbsp golden syrup
 100 g unsalted butter, melted
 1 tsp vanilla extract
 175 g self-raising flour
For the icing
 100 g soft unsalted butter
 200 g icing sugar
 2 tbsp caramel
 1 tbsp milk
For the topping
 2 tbsp caramel
 Handful mini sweets of your choice

Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4; oil and line a 900g loaf tin, about 21cm x 10cm x 7cm deep, with baking paper


Put the dates in a small pan, cover with 125ml water and bring to the boil; add the bicarbonate of soda, remove from the heat and stir well; transfer the contents of the pan to a food processor and blend the mixture until smooth


Whisk the eggs, sugar and syrup, in a bowl for about 5 minutes, until pale and fluffy; whisk in the melted butter and gently whisk in the vanilla and the pureed dates


Stir in the flour and a pinch of salt, then use a metal spoon to fold in; spoon the mixture into the tin, level and place in the preheated oven for 40-50 minutes; the cake is done when a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean; leave to cool in the tin


To make the icing, beat the butter, icing sugar and caramel; add the milk, a little at a time, until you have a creamy consistency


Top the cold cake with icing, drizzle over the caramel and scatter with the mini sweets

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