If you want to have your cake and eat it, Arlene from Carrickfergus Cookery School, Carrick YMCA, suggests you try this easy-to-bake spiced apple, date and almond loaf which she made for a local group last week. It is made with apples and dates instead of sugar, uses low fat spread and has almonds and walnuts for extra heart-healthy nutrition.
SPICED APPLE, DATE AND ALMOND LOAF
Cuts into 14
100g pitted dried dates, plus 3 extra dates, finely sliced to decorate
100g low fat spread
1½ dessert apples, cored and sliced
2 eggs, lightly beaten
100g ground almonds
½ teaspoon almond essence
200g self raising flour
3/4 tsp allspice or cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
20g desiccated coconut
1. Cover the dates with boiling water and leave to soak for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/Gas 4 and line a 2lb loaf tin with baking paper.
2. Drain the water from the dates, then blitz the softened fruit in a food processor along with the spread, apple and beaten egg.
3. Combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix well. Spoon the mixture into the prepared loaf tin, flatten the surface, then top with the extra sliced dates.
4. Bake for 40-45 minutes until the loaf is golden brown and springy to the touch, and an inserted skewer comes out clean. Remove from the oven, allow to cool for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely before slicing.
Cook’s Tip: Try adding a handful of chopped walniuts to the mixture for a little extra crunch.