Date, carrot and cranberry loaf
This loaf uses dates as the main natural sweetener (instead of sugar), and packs in extra goodness with grated carrot and cranberries.
- 1 cup dried dates
- ½ cup water
- 1½ teaspoons baking soda
- 50 g butter or coconut oil
- ⅓ cup pure maple syrup or liquid honey
- 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
- 1 large very ripe banana mashed
- 2 cups carrots loosely packed grated about 2 carrots
- 1 free-range egg lightly beaten
- ¾ cup dried cranberries chopped
- 1½ cups flour standard, gluten-free, buckwheat, spelt or wholemeal wheat
- 1 teaspoon mixed spice
- Preheat oven to 170degC.
- Place dates and water in a medium-sized pot and boil for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until the dates are all mushed up and the water has evaporated. Add baking soda and mix well – it will froth up a bit.
- Mix in butter/coconut oil, maple syrup/honey and vanilla. Then mix in mashed banana, carrot, egg and cranberries until well combined.
- Sift flour and mixed spice into the pot, and fold the two mixtures together using a large metal spoon until well combined, being careful not to over-mix.
- Spoon batter into a loaf tin lined with baking paper and roughly smooth out the top. Bake for 1 hour or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the loaf comes out clean. Leave in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out. The loaf will stay fresh for a few days, or freeze slices in an airtight container to keep for longer.
Served warm with a smear of butter and a cup of tea, afternoon tea doesn’t get much better than this! It freezes well, so make a couple of loaves and pop in the freezer for lunch boxes, if you can resist eating it all straight away. You can make this loaf gluten-free by using buckwheat flour or standard gluten-free flour, and if you want to make it dairy-free use coconut oil instead of butter. This is also a great gift for people I’ve found – everyone loves it.