Saturday, 5 January 2013

Low-Fat Banana and Prune Loaf Cake

Rumour has it that we've started a new year and so there are probably quite a few people making resolutions to be good or, at least, to be careful about what they eat. So it seems a good time to write down my favourite recipe for low-fat cake. Over the years I've tried many variations on this recipe but this very simple version is the one I usually come back to.

This loaf cake has no butter or oil and no eggs. It doesn't even have a lot of sugar. Of course, take those ingredients out of a cake mixture and you’ll get a very different sort of texture in the finished cake. This cake has a typical fruit loaf quality – soft but chewy.

I must make it very clear that you don’t have to use prunes – you could use other dried fruits such as dates. I know from past experience that many people hate prunes for some reason. Maybe they were force fed prunes as children. But personally I think prunes are deeply misunderstood and seriously delicious.

Low-Fat Banana and Prune Loaf Cake
This recipe will fill one 500 g (1 lb) loaf tin and you should get ten slices out of the loaf, so that’s very little indulgence per slice. If you really want indulgence, though, a good layer of butter spread on a slice should go down very well. The slices also toast rather pleasingly.

225 g self-raising flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
8 prunes, chopped – or around 80 g of dried fruit such as dates
160 g mashed banana (that’s roughly 1½ average bananas)
3 tbsp golden syrup

Lightly butter or spray a 500 g (1 lb.) loaf tin with cake release spray. Line the base of the tin with non-stick parchment. Preheat the oven to 170°C.

Sift the flour and bicarbonate of soda together. Stir in the prunes. Add the mashed banana and the golden syrup and mix together. The mixture will be quite firm so stir in enough water (don’t use really cold water) to make the mixture smooth and soft without being runny. The amount of water that you need will vary, but around 50 – 100 ml will usually be about right.

Transfer the mixture to the prepared tin and level it out. Bake for 40 – 50 minutes until a knife or skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean. If the top of the cake seems to be browning too quickly, cover it loosely with foil after the first 15 or 20 minutes.

Allow the cake to cool for around 10 minutes in the tin before removing and cooling completely on a rack.
Low-Fat Banana and Prune Loaf Cake

15 comments:

  1. I like the sound of this as I don't have a very sweet tooth. Accordingly I don't do a lot of baking so please excuse my ignorant question: Can you clarify a bit more what the texture should be after the adddition of the water please?

    For the record, I think prunes are divine and have them as snacks - just have to be careful to go easy on them, if you know what I mean ;-)

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    1. Yes, I know exactly what you mean about the prunes - that's a good point. As for the texture of the cake mixture, without the water the mixture is sticky and stiff. You need to add enough water to allow you to spread the cake mixture easily into the loaf tin without it being so sticky that it will stick firmly to a spoon. If you add too much water, the fruit will tend to sink, but it's not really critical. It may alter the baking time a little, though. If in doubt, err on the side of adding too little water. I've learnt over the years that the amount of moisture in the bananas and prunes (or other fruit) and variations in types of flour mean that it's very difficult to be precise about the amount of water needed. Happily, this cake is very forgiving and you don't have to be too precise.

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    2. In cake-making terms, I think you are describing 'dropping consistency', Phil!

      Great looking loaf, by the way.

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    3. Thank you - I'm pretty confident I know what I'm aiming for now and will be making this in the very near future :-)

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    4. Suelle, you're right, I would describe it as dropping consistency but I'm always a bit nervous about using that phrase. I've discovered that it can mean different things to different people, especially when the mixture is a bit sticky with prunes or dates.

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  2. Like you, I think prunes are delicious. I'm not starting a healthy eating habit this new year. I'm still on 'everything in moderation' mantra. Saying that, knowing that this is a healthy cake, what a bonus :) I adore banana cake. Lovely.

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  3. This looks delicious and I love the idea of toasting it. Prunes are a favourite of this house, probably because we discovered how yummy they are as children. We always used to have tinned prunes with rice pudding - deeelish !!

    I do agree, all that fruit over Christmas - the cake, the mince pies, the pudding, the dates - all have a beneficial restorative effect - a great way to begin the new year !!

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  4. Ah yes, the low fat resolutions, snigger :)

    I actually do love prunes and my husband loves the idea of this low fat, low indulgence cake, so its on the menu for tomorrow, as soon as I go get some bananas and prunes. We actually get some good quality dried prunes here, in bulk, and I tend to usually have a supply of them but for some strange reason I am out... so off I go.

    Just out of curiosity, though, Phil, can I substitute raisins? Or won't that work?

    Thanks fo sharing :)

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    1. I've made loads of variations of this cake with all sorts of dried fruit and raisins should be just fine. The reason I tend to use prunes (apart from the fact that I like them) is that they make the cake seem a little more moist. In addition, if you're being very, very strict about calories, then I think you need fewer prunes than other dried fruit to make an impact on the flavour of the finished cake.

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  5. Very nice and tasty loaf. Prunes are great in bread. I often buy bread with prunes.
    This is a healthy bread surely worth trying. Ciao.

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  6. What a delicious looking fruit loaf. And prunes are fabulous. People don't know what they are missing!

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  7. Mmmmmm this sounds really good, I have bookmarked this one. Happy New Year Diane

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  8. dates, prunes, bananas, love them all, bring them on :)your loaf looks so delicious and inviting, look forward to making, thank you Phil.

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  9. This looks good Phil. I love prunes and have bananas to use up. Just the recipe, and healthy too!

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  10. This sounds like an absolutely fabulous January breakfast... with the thick layer of butter on top of it too! I love the idea of prunes in a loaf cake. I can't say that I've ever seen them before in a cake, so I'm glad to see that you're (hopefully) starting a new trend!

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