About this recipe:My version of an old family favourite - not quite as naughty, but still nice! I use granulated sweetener instead of caster sugar when I make this for myself - tastes just as sweet, just not as many calories!
Preheat oven to 160 C / Gas 2 1/2. Grease an 8 inch loaf tin with the knob of margarine, using a pastry brush if possible, for better coverage.
Measure out 150ml of hot water (as hot as you can handle, but not boiling) into a large Pyrex-type jug. Chop the dates and add them to the hot water, stirring them in so they don't stick together. Allow to soak for a few minutes.
Crush the walnuts with the blade of a wide knife (ie: meat cleaver) using the heel of your hand, then scrunch with your fingers as you add to the dates and water mixture whilst stirring in with a spoon. I find this method gives a chunkier consistency than using an electric chopper or grinder.
In no particular order, add the eggs, honey and almond extract to the mixture, and whisk for about 2 minutes (by hand) or until the eggs are fully blended in. If using an electric whisk - about 15-20 seconds.
Sieve together the flour, bicarb, sugar and nutmeg into a large mixing bowl. You will end up with the wholemeal husks left in the sieve, just throw it in on top afterwards; the sieving was more to get rid of any lumps in the flour and mix the dry ingredients more evenly. Make a well in the centre and pour in the wet mixture, stirring in with a whisk as you pour.
Whisk thoroughly until the whole thing looks like really lumpy bowl of porridge. Fold in a few times with a spatula, to make sure all the wet mixture has been blended into the dry. Stir in the ginger preserves. Pour the mixture into your pre-greased tin and pop into the oven.
Bake for about 80 minutes, checking at about halfway through and altering according to your own oven's efficiency. If the top is looking a little dark, cover loosely with a piece of foil, to prevent it burning. At full-time, run a metal skewer through the middle to check if it comes out clean.
Allow to stand for about 10 minutes, then tip out onto a wire rack to cool for about half an hour before slicing. Enjoy!
This loaf (due to the wholemeal flour I think) firms up more after a day or so of storage, so I tend to just double up the ingredients and make 2 at a time. However it is equally yummy while still warm from the oven, but can be a little stodgy. Goes great with a cuppa! ;o)
I save up the tubs I get my mushrooms in from the supermarket and use them as a "Make-Line" to prepare my ingredients beforehand. I weigh out all the dry stuffs into one tub, and as much of the "wet mix" ingredients as I can into another, then it's all ready to go. Makes it quicker than rummaging about in bags and packets and cuts down on clutter! I only have a small kitchen.
Make it healthier
I use granulated sweetener instead of caster sugar when I make this for myself - tastes just as sweet, just not as many calories! Also you can substitute the nutmeg for cinnamon and the almond essence for vanilla essence if you want a lighter, sweeter flavour.