To me, there is something so beautiful about a plain loaf cake wrapped in parchment paper. I don’t know whether it is the rectangular shape of the cake, or the contrast between the two textures or what, but I could spend (and have spent!) hours look at photos of them on Instagram and never tire of the sight.
The cake pictured below is a slightly adapted version of Delia Smith’s Sticky Toffee Cake – only adapted as I didn’t have all her ingredients to begin with. Delia is a funny one, isn’t she? I would like to go back a few decades and experience cooking when Delia almost owned the category, as now she doesn’t publish, I feel she’s often left behind in our thoughts and recipe inspiration. I rarely hear of her being referenced much anymore unless her classic book comes out at Christmas.
Such a shame, because Delia’s Cakes is one of my all time favourite baking books. The book is so white and clean and thankfully, the photography allows everything to look homemade. There are no extravagant props or flower petals thrown into every shot, or even detailed plates or napkins. Delia’s bakes speak for themselves in this book and for me it is a welcome change to over-styled cakes. If you haven’t got a copy of this book, I urge you to take a look at it and revisit some of these beautiful, practical recipes.
I don’t know if you will have been to Dun Laoighaire market in the People’s Park on Sundays? Sometimes we go for Scampi and Whippy cones. There’s a fella there who sells second hand books and I always have a quick scan for any interesting cookbooks while I sup my Brian’s coffee.
A couple of weeks ago I would Delia’s Complete Cookery Course for €7 and felt it had to be mine. The book is gas really now as she talks about goats cheese being a new ingredient to the market – if only she could have seen how the Irish cheese market would develop! Retro cuteness aside, the book has so many great cooking tips and classic dishes I hope to master. She has since released more up to date version of this book, but I suppose one of the best things about Delia is her online cookery school. Before everyone had chained themselves to YouTube, Delia was offering online video tutorials on her own site. I have huge admiration for anyone who simply wants to teach people to do things for themselves; whether it’s a lovely loaf cake or how to put up a shelf! Seriously though, I warn you – if you spend too much time on Delia’s site, you will end up buying every loaf tin you ever see.
right, you need:
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
175g light brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
110g unsalted butter
50g black treacle
20g golden syrup
1/4 tsp salt
225g plain flour
110g stoned dates
Preheat your oven to 200 degrees and place your pecans on a large baking tray, spread out. Pop them into your oven for 10-15 minutes and allow to roast. Once browned, take them out and allow them to cool. Decrease the oven temperature to 150 degrees. Grab your favourite loaf tine and line it up.
Once the nuts have cooled, place them on a chopping board and chop into small pieces.
Weigh your dates and chop them into small pieces too – the smaller the better though as you don’t want to end up with huge lumps of date in one bite.
In a medium sized saucepan, weigh the butter, sugar, syrup and vanilla extract and begin to heat it up slowly on a low heat. Mix gently and allow everything to slowly melt together.
Take it off the heat and allow to cool slightly. Now beat in the 2 eggs.
Sieve in the flour, baking soda and salt, mixing until everything is fully combined. Follow with the dates and roasted pecans.
Lastly, add in the milk and mix again. Don’t worry if the cake mix looks very runny – it should be fine.
Pour the cake mix into the baking tin, making sure the top is flat and even.
Pop it into the oven for 1 hour. To check if the cake is done, pierce it with a sharp knife or cake tester. If it comes out clean, the cake is ready.
Often things baked with dried fruit are even nicer if they are left a couple of days and this cake is no different. If you are not eating it straight away, allow it to cool completely in the tin and then wrap the entire thing in parchment paper and leave it an old biscuit tin or lunchbox in a cool place for a few days.
I hope you will check out Delia’s website and the brilliant book Delia’s Cakes. Let me know if you have any other baking book recommendations for me – especially for loaf cakes.
Happy baking !