- Place the prunes in a bowl and pour over the boiling water. Cover and set aside to soak for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF, gas mark 4). Grease a 20 cm (8 in) ring tin, 900 ml (1 1/2 pints) in capacity.
- Beat the butter until soft and light, then gradually beat in the sugar. Purée the prunes with their soaking liquid in a blender until smooth, then add to the butter and sugar mixture with the vanilla extract, beating until well mixed. Gradually beat in the eggs.
- Sift the white flour, wholemeal flour, baking powder and cocoa powder over the mixture, tipping in any bran left in the sieve. Fold in the dry ingredients until evenly combined in a mixture that has a soft dropping consistency, adding a little water if necessary. Transfer it to the ring tin and spread it out evenly.
- Bake for about 25 minutes or until well risen, slightly cracked on top and firm to the touch. Leave in the tin for 10 minutes, then run a knife around the inside of the tin to loosen the cake and turn it out onto a wire rack to cool. (The cake can be kept in an airtight tin for 3 days, before adding the topping.)
- To make the frosting, press the ricotta through a sieve into a bowl. Add the vanilla extract and icing sugar, and beat until smooth.
- Place the cake on a serving plate and spoon the ricotta frosting evenly around the top. Use a knife to swirl the frosting slightly, taking it a short way down the side of the cake. Place a little cocoa powder in a tea strainer or small sieve and dust it over the frosting. Serve as soon as possible.
Each serving provides
A, B, B2, B6, B12, calcium, copper, iron, selenium, zinc
Some more ideas
Add 100 g (3½ oz) finely chopped walnuts to the mixture after sifting in the flour. Decorate the frosting with a few walnut halves. * For a fruit-filled ring cake, slice the ring into 2 layers and sandwich them together with half the ricotta frosting and 100 g (3½ oz) sliced strawberries or whole blueberries. Top the cake with the remaining frosting and decorate with a few whole strawberries or blueberries.
Prunes have a lot to offer nutritionally, being a good source of fibre, as well as providing several vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. Made into a purée, they can replace some of the fat and sugar in baked goods. * Ricotta is relatively low in fat (11 g fat per 100 g/3½ oz compared with cream cheese at 47 g fat), and is a good source of protein, calcium and vitamins B2 and B12.