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Spiced Coffee and Date Cake

This deliciously-spiced cake, studded with coffee-soaked dates and topped with sticky pecans, is quite easy to prepare and the perfect accompaniment to a cup of coffee, whether in the morning at the breakfast table, or after dinner (accompanied by a scoop of vanilla ice cream, perhaps?) for ‘pudding’ — it’s delightfully different and oh-so more-ish!

Spiced Coffee and Date Cake

For the cake:

5 1/2 oz. pitted dates, halved if large (1 1/4 cups)
9 fl. oz. hot, strong black coffee
6 tbs. butter, melted
5 oz. caster sugar (2/3 cup)
1 egg, beaten
zest of 1 orange
6 oz. all-purpose flour (1 cup plus 1 tbs.)
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
generous grating of nutmeg

For the topping:

4 tbs. butter
4 oz. light muscovado sugar (1/2 cup)*
1 oz. pecans (1/2 cup)

Put the dates and coffee in a bowl and leave to soak for 20 minutes. Heat the oven to 350°F and line the bottom of an 8-inch round pan with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, beat the melted butter with the caster sugar, eggs, and orange zest. Drain the dates and add the coffee to the cake mixture, reserving the dates.

Sift the flour, baking powder, and spices together in another bowl and make a well in the center. Gradually pour in the coffee mixture and beat well until smooth. Pour into the prepared pan and top with the dates. Bake for 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the topping. Melt the butter in a pan over a low heat, then stir in the sugar and heat gently until syrupy. Stir in 1 tbs. water to make a smooth, glossy sauce, then add the pecans and stir to combine.

Remove the cake from the oven and leave to cool for 10 minutes. While still warm, invert onto a plate, so that the flat side is now on top. Pour the topping over the surface, spacing the pecans evenly. If you want to keep the cake for a few days, leave the topping to set, then store in a sealed container for up to five days.

*You may substitute dark brown sugar if light muscovado sugar is unavailable.

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