Looks-wise, this loaf probably falls into the not so wildly good-looking but tastes good nevertheless end of the spectrum. Contemplating how I would style and shoot it, I began to think about how I’d got to this stage of photographing what I eat. Stepping back in time to childhood, can you imagine if your grandmother had spent the day baking and laid out her table with freshly-baked, good old-fashioned offerings ….then stopped you from digging in so she could take a photo? Amusing and absurd, of course, but most of us are doing it for a reason – to present an attractive photo that makes readers want to make the recipe and continue reading your post.
Talking of styling, I don’t have enough props. I can see what I want to achieve in my mind’s eye but don’t have sufficient accoutrements to get me there. I am envious of those who always have the right prop because they happened to find something in a second-hand shop or Trade Me. Not just props, but stuff in their homes too. I just want to scream sometimes as I rarely seem to find what I want.
But back to the loaf. It may not look terribly attractive but it’s an everyday kind of cake that has its virtues. Firstly, it ticks the right box in that it is a cinch to make. Secondly, you use the whole lemon (minus pips). That always has me excited as I love lemony cakes. While this cake was waiting to go in the oven, I was at my neighbour’s eating her lemon cake – one without lemon (she forgot) – and let me tell you that was lovely too, lemon or no lemon. Thirdly, it is so tasty with its’ zingy lemon tang and the sweet pulpy dates. I’ve made it twice now and it will, I’m sure, be a regular in my baking.
One of our book club members baked it as a mini-loaf (the original recipe makes it as mini-loaves) and later I discovered I had the recipe in a NZ House & Garden magazine at home. Do try it in the smaller tins if you have them. I used a larger loaf tin but I seem to recall the texture was “cakier” in the smaller loaf (or maybe that was me getting a bit heavy handed!).
lemon and date loaf
1 cup dried dates
100g butter, softened
100g (1/2 cup) white sugar
70g (1/3 cup) brown sugar
250g (1 cup) plain or Greek yogurt
1 ½ cups standard flour
1 tsp baking powder
*I substituted Greek yogurt for the sour cream in the original recipe.
Preheat oven to 175°C fan bake or 200°C regular. Grease and line a loaf tin.
Cut the lemon into quarters and remove pips. Place in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Transfer to a bowl.
Place dates in the food processor and pulse until finely chopped then mix the dates in with the lemons.
Note: Do not pulse lemon and dates together as apparently it does not work!
In a cake mixer, cream the butter and both white and brown sugars until pale and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time until incorporated. Stir in the yogurt. Mix in the lemon and dates until evenly distributed. Sift the flour and baking powder together into the mix and gently fold in. Put the mixture into the loaf tin and bake for 35-40 minutes or until the cake is golden and springs back when lightly pressed with your fingertips.
Cool for five minutes in the tin, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Recipe adapted from NZ House & Garden (September 2011)