This cake keeps well for up to three days, iced and stored in a cake tin or airtight container in a cool pantry. Make sure you use fresh, not rancid, walnuts.
150g (1 cup) fresh, pitted dates, chopped
185ml (¾ cup) unsweetened hot espresso (or strong filter coffee)
120g (about 4 ounces) butter, softened
150g (1 cup) light brown sugar
2 medium (size 6) free-range eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
250g (1¾ cups) standard flour
½ tsp salt
1½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
50g (½ cup) fresh walnuts, roughly chopped
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
Cream cheese icing
30g (about 1 ounce) butter, softened
90g (⅓ cup) cream cheese, softened
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
210g (1¾ cups) icing sugar, sifted
1 Preheat oven to 150°C (300°F). Line a deep 20cm (8”) round cake tin with baking (parchment) paper. Put dates in a bowl and pour over hot coffee. Cool.
2 Cream butter and sugar using a hand-held electric beater. Add beaten eggs a little at a time, adding 2 tablespoons of the flour. Sift remaining flour, salt and baking powder together onto a piece of paper, then sift half over the creamed mixture in the bowl. Mix in, then add coffee and dates and vanilla extract. Fold in the rest of the flour, then walnuts. Lastly, dissolve bicarbonate of soda in 1 tablespoon of hot water and mix in.
3 Spoon mixture into prepared tin. Bake for 55–60 minutes in preheated oven, or until a skewer inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean. Cool in tin, then transfer to a cake rack to finish cooling. When cool, spread top with cream cheese icing.
4 For the icing, put butter and cream cheese in a bowl and beat with a hand-held electric beater until smooth. Beat in lemon zest and add enough icing sugar to make icing stiff but spreadable.
Photography Aaron McLean http://www.aaronmclean.com