Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Raw Apricot and Date Chewy Bars

This was my husband's debut with the dehydrator, and very good they turned out, too!
200g dates (with pits) 150g stoned
200g dried apricots (with pits) 150g stoned
100g ground almonds
100g ground pumpkin seeds
  • Soak fruit and remove pits, blend using the soak water (some or all)
  • Mix and dehydrate on Paraflexx sheet at veg temp for 6-8 hours, scoring and turning onto mesh when 1/2 done. The longer you dehydrate them. the chewier they get/ My husband's mix was quite wet so he made them thinner so they didn't take too long; you could always go for a drier mix and have them more chunky.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Carob, date and walnut cake- vegan, sugar- free

Cut into squares so that each one has a covered date on top...

As this week is National Baking Week  here in the UK, I thought I would post (yet) another cake. Not that I need an excuse, of course..! My husband had requested a cake with chocolate, dates and walnuts in it this weekend, but I'd run out of cocoa powder, so I made this one instead. As a token gesture towards his request for chocolate, I made some chocolate-covered dates to put on top, as I did have the odd bar hanging around; (the "odd bar" happened to be milk chocolate, but you could always use plain/ soya chocolate or a carob bar.) Sticky, sweet and light, this cake ticks all the yumminess boxes...
Lately I've been cooking a lot with dates as there seem to be lots of bargains in my local Asian shops; Iranian date syrup, the usual Tunisian dried dates and even some really delicious boxes of "fresh" dates (I think they're actually semidried or else a drier variety). It was the fresh dates that I used in this cake. Dates are a good source of iron, and generally a health-giving food, unlike refined sugars; watch out for my Ingredient of the Month in November for more info. on dates and nutrition.
400g self-raising flour
3-4 tabs carob powder
4 tsps baking powder
175g chopped fresh dates and chopped walnuts
400ml soya milk
150ml organic cold-pressed sunflower oil (the distinctive flavour goes well with the dates)
100ml each of date syrup and Sweet Freedom syrup (which also contains carob- if you can't get it, perhaps you could use a thick fruit concentrate or all date syrup)
More date syrup and carob powder for the topping
  • Combine all the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl
  • Beat all the wet ingredients together in a separate container until you have a coffee-coloured liquid and the syrup is thoroughly mixed in with the oil and milk
  • Beat the wet mix into the dry mix and pout into an oiled and floured cake tin/ dampened silicone cake mould
  • Bake at 180C for about 25 minutes; you can test if it's done by inserting a thin skewer into the middle of the cake. If it comes out clean, the cake is baked.
  • While the cake is baking, stone 9 or 10 dried or fresh dates and coat them in melted chocolate/ carob. (I put mine in the freezer to set them quickly.)
  • Mix enough date syrup with carob powder to form a sticky, slightly runny paste that you can spread over the top of the cake. Then sit the covered dates on the top.
 If there is any left. wrap carefully in clingfilm/ store in an airtight container. It is even better the next day, when the sticky topping has soaked into the cake!