Food: Apricot and orange fruit loaf

 
Apricot and orange fruit loaf
Apricot and orange fruit loaf

So after the panettone bread and butter pudding and the salted caramel millionaires shortbread I thought it was time to make something a little bit healthier. This is still a cake, but it's a fairly healthy one as far as cakes go. It's egg and dairy-free and it doesn't have any refined sugar in it.

Apricot and orange fruit loaf
Apricot and orange fruit loaf

The sweetness comes from plenty of dried fruit. For a butter and oil free cake it's really moist and it's perfect for this time of year when their are so many beautiful oranges around. I found these blush oranges in the local supermarket and they look and taste amazing - sweet and zingy all at the same time.

This recipe, adapted from one in The River Cottage Baby and Toddler Cookbook, is great for kids because of the lack of refined sugar, but it is quite sweet so I tend to serve it as pudding rather than a snack.

To make the cake you will need:

100g dried apricots 100g stoned dates 2 oranges 125g plain flour 100g unrefined spelt flour or wholemeal flour 2tsp baking powder 2 tsp ground mixed spice 50g ground almonds 375g raisins (that's a lot I know!)

Method:

Pre heat the oven to 170c and line a loaf tin.

Apricot and orange fruit loaf
Apricot and orange fruit loaf

Chop up the apricots and dates and put them in the small pan. Grate the zest of one of the oranges and throw that in too.

Apricot and orange fruit loaf
Apricot and orange fruit loaf
Apricot and orange fruit loaf
Apricot and orange fruit loaf

Squeeze the juice from the oranges into a measuring jug and top up to 350ml with water. (Doesn't that juice look gorgeous? And how old is my very tired looking measuring jug?). Add the juice to the pan and bring to the boil. Then remove the pan from the heat and set aside.

Apricot and orange fruit loaf
Apricot and orange fruit loaf
Apricot and orange fruit loaf
Apricot and orange fruit loaf

Put the remaining ingredients into a large bowl. Then pour over the soaked apricots and dates and their juice and mix thoroughly. It looks a bit unpromising at this point but don't panic.

Apricot and orange fruit loaf
Apricot and orange fruit loaf

Dollop into the tin and smooth the top. Bake for 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.

Cool in the tin for 5-10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. It will keep for several days in an air tight box.

Apricot and orange fruit loaf
Apricot and orange fruit loaf

I think it tastes best smothered in butter - totally defeating point of an almost fat-free cake.