I owe this one entirely to Julie, of A Finger in Every Pie and her gorgeous recipe for Wallflower Loaf. There are only a few changes from her recipe, plus I didnt bake it in a loaf tin - I used a square cake pan instead. But oh my, what a wonderful end result!
As the lovely Julie says, it's NOT fruitcake - but it's so much better than that, if you ask me. I absolutely love a chewy-nutty texture and this concoction is the very embodiment of that particular combination. It IS sweet, yes, but since I cut the "cake" into small bars, they were perfect for delivering just enough sweetness to alleviate the sugar fix without going over-the-top - and of course the nuts provided a contrast to the sweet taste.
Julie used walnuts in her recipe, and Turkish apricots and medjool dates. I didnt have anything as exotic - just "Tesco's best" seedless dates and tangy dried apricots. I can only imagine how much better Julie's Wallflower Loaf must have tasted, because humble though my ingredients were, they still made for a really wonderful outcome.
Oh, and I didnt use walnuts either - I substituted pecans because I think walnuts taste rather too bitter. Julie had also mentioned that the cake tends to burn easily, so I was extra careful with it right from the start (I have an unfortunate tendency to over-bake things). I started baking the cake at about 170C and after 30 minutes or so, I lowered the temperature another 10 degrees. The end result was near perfect. I didnt add any cinnamon or nutmeg, but the spices were barely missed, the bars were so addictively good!
Gotta say it again - thanks to Julie for a gorgeous, EASY recipe!
Recipe for: Wallflower "cake" bars
1-1/2 cups seedless dates, cut in half
2 cups dried apricots, cut in half
1-1/2 to 2 cups pecans, broken in half
3/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup wildflower honey (I used orange blossom honey)
1 tsp. vanilla
Grated zest of 1 orange
1. Line a 6" or 7" square cake pan and line with parchment paper. Spray lightly with oil.
2. Combine the dried fruits and nuts together.
3. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl.
4. In another large bowl, beat the honey, eggs, vanilla and orange zest together.
5. Add the flour to the beaten egg and honey mix to make a thick batter.
6. Add the chopped dried fruits and nuts to the batter and stir till they are thinly coated. It will look like there is way too little batter, but like Julia said, it rises up around the fruits and nuts JUST right.
7. Pour the mixture into a 6" square baking pan that has been lined with silicone paper and press down lightly.
8. Put the pan into the oven at 170C and let the cake bake for 30 minutes or so. Then lower the heat by 10 degrees and let it cook till a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
9. Let the cake cool completely in the pan before slicing it into bars.