Lumberjack cake

Serves: 8

Lumberjack Cake

LittlePod supplies the Exploding Bakery, whose pastries travel to London and Paris every day. It's owner, Tom, told me about the origin of one of his favourite cakes:

"Flicking through a copy of Australian Women's Weekly, as I am prone to do, I came across a rather rugged and handsome-looking cake that appealed to all my manly confectionary needs. When it came out of the oven we duly scoffed it down, noting the uncanny resemblance to a sticky toffee pudding: delicious sweet dates and dense, moist sponge. Add to this the apple and crunchy caramelised coconut and you have yourself one hell of a tasty traybake..."

Ingredients

For the cake:

³250g/1²⁄³ cups chopped dried dates
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda/baking soda
175g/1½ sticks butter
300g/1½ cups caster/granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extracct
400g/2¹⁄³ cups plain/all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
500g/1lb. 2oz. apples

For the topping:

75g/5 tablespoons butter
125g/generous ½ cup soft light brown sugar
100ml/6 tablespoons milk
70g/ ¾ cup desiccated/shredded coconut

a 30x18cm/12 x 7-inch traybake pan, lined with baking paper

Method

Preheat the oven to 180C (350F) Gas 4. Put the dates in a bowl with the bicarbonate of soda/baking soda, add 330ml/1 1/3 cups boiling water and set aside to cool.

Cream the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl, then add the eggs and vanilla extract. Beat vigorously until fluffy, then gently fold in the flour and salt, taking care not to overmix it.

Peel and remove the cores from the apples, then finely chop them. Fold the apples and dates into the cake batter.

Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 40-50 minutes. If a knife or skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean, the cake is cooked.

Meanwhile, make the topping. Place all the ingredients in a heavy-based pan and cook gently over low heat until the butter melts, or heat in a microwave-proof container. Give it a good stir.

Remove the cake from the oven, spoon the topping mixture onto it and spread it out evenly, then return it to the over for a further 20 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.

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