The rich slice

Choco­late, date and cof­fee cake

The Guardian - Feast - - Meera Sodha -

Prep Cook Serves 35 min 1 hr 10 min 8-10

Rape­seed oil, greas­ing

1 tbsp milled flax seeds

4½ tbsp ground cof­fee

2 tbsp dark brown soft sugar, plus 50g ex­tra

250g chopped dates 1 tsp bi­car­bon­ate of soda

250g ripe ba­nana flesh (roughly 3 medium ba­nanas), mashed

80ml ex­tra-vir­gin rape­seed oil

2 x 100g bars 70% co­coa ve­gan dark choco­late

140g plain flour 1 pinch sea salt

1 tsp bak­ing pow­der 2½ tbsp co­coa pow­der

1½ tsp ground car­damom

1 hand­ful mixed dried ed­i­ble flow­ers such as roses or corn­flow­ers (I get mine from Mad­docks Farm), to dec­o­rate for Pour the ganache over the cake while it’s on a wire rack for a clean look; or, for a more nat­u­ral style, put it on a plate and let the ganache run down the sides. Or skip the ganache en­tirely, and turn this into more of a morn­ing or af­ter­noon cake.

Heat the oven to 180C/350F/gas 4. Grease an 20cm spring­form cake tin with rape­seed oil, then line the base with bak­ing pa­per.

In a small bowl, soak the flax seeds in three ta­ble­spoons of wa­ter. Put the cof­fee in a jug, cover with 220ml just-boiled wa­ter, mix, strain (you should get about 200ml cof­fee) and stir in two ta­ble­spoons of sugar.

Put the dates in a saucepan, cover with 250ml just-boiled wa­ter, then cook on medium heat, stir­ring of­ten, un­til the wa­ter is ab­sorbed and the dates dis­in­te­grate into a paste – eight to 10 min­utes. Off the heat, stir in the bi­carb (it will fizz). Add the ba­nanas to the date mix, then stir in the flax seeds, oil, 50g sugar and 100ml cof­fee. Break one choco­late bar into pea-sized pieces and stir in.

In a large bowl, whisk the flour, salt, bak­ing pow­der, co­coa pow­der and ground car­damom, then fold in the date mix­ture. Tip into the cake tin and level out the top with the back of a spoon. Bake for 20 min­utes, then turn down the heat to 150C/300F/gas 2 and cook for 50 min­utes more, un­til a skewer comes out clean, then leave to cool be­fore turn­ing out on to a rack or plate.

For the ganache, break the se­cond choco­late bar into pea-sized pieces and put in a heat­proof bowl set over a pan of sim­mer­ing wa­ter (take care the base doesn’t come into con­tact with the hot wa­ter) and stir un­til melted and glossy. Whisk in the re­main­ing 100ml cof­fee, then pour over the cake. Leave to cool, scat­ter over the flow­ers and serve.

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