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!


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