Landscape (UK)

Date & chocolate cake


Serves 10 250g pitted dates, plus extra, sliced into sticks, for decoration 450g unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing 4 eggs 150ml milk 350g self-raising flour 500g cocoa powder 1 tsp bicarbonat­e of soda 1 tsp vanilla bean paste 350g dark chocolate 200g icing sugar 2 x 20cm round cake tins baking paper

Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas mark 4 and grease and line the cake tins with baking paper. In a food processor, blend the dates together until a puree. In a large mixing bowl, combine 250g of the butter with the dates, then beat in the eggs, one at a time. Mix in the milk, then sift in the flour, cocoa powder and bicarbonat­e of soda. Fold in the dry ingredient­s, using a wooden spoon, until completely integrated, then stir in the vanilla paste. Break 150g of the chocolate up into pieces and place in a microwavea­ble bowl. Microwave for 1-1½ mins, then stir until it is smooth. Mix the melted chocolate into the cake batter. Divide the batter between the tins and bake for 25-30 mins until an inserted metal skewer comes out clean. Allow the cake halves to cool in the tins, then take them out of the tins and remove the baking paper. Place one half on a serving plate. In a food processor, whisk the remaining butter, then gradually add the icing sugar. Whisk for 1-2 mins until light and fluffy. Break up the remaining chocolate into a microwavea­ble bowl. Microwave for 1-1½ mins, then stir until it is smooth. Whisk the melted chocolate into the icing until very smooth. Spread approximat­ely a third of the icing on top of the cake half on the serving plate, then top with the second half. Cover the entire cake with the remaining icing and decorate with the date sticks. Leave to chill for 30 mins, then serve.

“Come buy, come buy: Our grapes fresh from the vine, Pomegranat­es full and fine, Dates and sharp bullaces”

Christina Rossetti, ‘Goblin Market’

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