Thursday, 21 June 2012

Cranks date & walnut loaf

adorned with honeyed yoghurt and fruit salad
Cranks was the first vegetarian restaurant in London, on Carnaby Street in 1961. I used to go to the one next to the Craftsman Potters shop, with my mum in the 70s, getting the full strength 70s dose of varnished pine, wholemeal everything and salt glazed earthenware. The food was laid out under the heating lamps you now mostly only see in motorway service stations. But then I don’t go to hotels much, or all-you-can-eat buffets. Oh, and they had a salad bar. It was jolly tasty stuff, and introduced me to the joys of red cabbage coleslaw. Now, in a moment of clarity, I have purchased the Cranks Recipe book via the estimable ebay. It is a gem.

I love a walnut loaf, and, to revisit an old subject, I have eggs to use, thanks to our very own chickens. So I gave the Date and Walnut loaf a try. I’ve just eaten the last slice. I wrapped it up and let it sit for three days before tasting it, or, if you want the truth, I hid it. Cake doesn’t last long around here, and I wanted to see what it was like when it sat for a while. The answer is: delicious.

three trying to lay at once
This cake is made entirely with wholemeal ingredients, and although the name is date and walnut loaf, it tastes wonderfully of orange. I can’t recommend it enough. Some of the walnuts are included in the mix, and some are scattered on top. You get a lovely orangey crumb, with bits of fudgey date the occasional crunch walnut fragment inside the cake and lovely toasty walnut on top. The Cranks recipe recommends it with butter, but for me it is heaven without accompanied by a nice strong cup of tea.

You’ll see that the ingredients are all based around the 3 eggs,  50g of fat, per egg and the same of dates and sugar 100g of flour and 25g of walnuts. So if you want to make a teeny loaf just add that to a third of the juice and zest of an orange. Or make a very very orangey version.

I use an electric whisk.

Recipe: Date and Walnut loaf
Set oven to 170C/325F/Gas Mark 3
Line a 500g/1lb loaf tin

·         150g/5oz Butter or Margarine
·         150g/5ozDark brown sugar (muscovado)
·         3 Eggs, beaten
·         1 Small orange, grated rind and juice
·         150g/50z Dates, chopped and stoned
·         75g/3oz Walnuts, chopped
·         300g/10oz Wholemeal  self-raising flour

Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy
Beat in the eggs one by one, then stir in the orange rind
Fold in the dates, and half the walnuts and the flour
Add the orange juice last
Spoon the mixture out of into a lined 900g/1lb loaf tin
Level the surface of the mixture and scatter the rest of the walnuts over the top
Bake for 1 to 1 ¼ hours, until risen and golden brown in a coolish oven 170C/325F/Gas Mark 3

If you can, leave for a few days before eating

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