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.
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.