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Friday, December 06, 2013

Sugarless Fruit Cake


Here's a cake for all you people who cannot or will not take the heavy doses of sugar and fat in traditional fruit cakes.  This cake is sweetened with the natural sugars found in dates and raisins and no other sweetener is added or needed.  And as an added bonus it's cholesterol free as well.  There's really nothing bad for your health in this cake.  It's full of unsweetened fruit, nuts, whole grain flour and oil instead of butter.  You could eat this for breakfast and feel totally justified in doing so.  It's so good for you it could be called the "elixir of life."  

I cut this recipe out of a newspaper some years ago and was pleasantly surprised at how nice it turned out.  It's actually a very nice loaf that slices easily after resting overnight. The texture of the crumb is not as firm as a traditional fruit cake as the dates make it softer.  The taste is spicy with overtones of orange and vanilla.  The nuts give a nice contrasting texture to the raisins and any remaining bits of date.  

I have used this recipe when doing cooking demonstrations at church and it has always been positively received by those who must watch their sugar intake as well as by those who will eat anything that gets in their way. 

I like to have this made during the holidays to offer guests an alternative to the other cookies and cakes on the table.  (I would caution any one who is diabetic to remember natural sugar is still sugar and although the cake is healthy they can't eat the whole thing without spiking their sugar levels.)

This is so nice you just might like to make it all year long.

Sugarless Fruit Cake
2 cups raisins*
½ pound dates (225 g), roughly chopped (about 2 cups)
Juice and grated rind of one orange
2 ½ cups water
¾ teaspoon salt
¾ cup oil
2 teaspoons cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon cloves

Boil together for 5 minutes.  Make sure dates have started to break up and become soft as these are the sweetener in this cake.  If the boiled mixture seems unusually thick add an additional half cup of water or orange juice.  Older dates and raisins may be very dry and soak up more water than fresher fruit. 

Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.

Add:
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
2 teaspoons vanilla

Sift flour, baking soda and baking powder together.  Add to boiled fruit along with the nuts and vanilla.  Mix well.  Spread into 2 loaf pans (8x4x3).  Bake 350 for 1 hour or until baked through.  Keep a careful eye on this cake, especially during the last half hour.  This is baked at a higher temperature than most dark fruit cakes because there is no refined sugar in the batter.  If the cake is browning too quickly, turn the temperature down to 325 degrees and if needed cover loosely with foil wrap.

Remove from oven and cool overnight before cutting.  Makes about 24-28 slices.

*Use any chopped dried fruit such as apricots, dried apple, etc to replace some of the raisins.



 
The chopped dates should measure about 2 cups.


Instead of grating and juicing the orange, I throw the whole orange with half the water in the blender. 


The raisins, dates, orange, oil and spices are mixed together.  
What a lovely aroma even before it starts to boil.


Let the mixture boil gently for about 5 minutes.


You can see how thick the boiled mixture has become.  
If you think it will be too thick when the flour is added, add an extra half cup of water or orange juice. 


Sift the whole wheat flour, baking soda and baking powder together.  
There may be a little bran left in the bottom of the sifter.  Just throw that back in the bowl.  


 Mix the nuts and flour together and stir in the cooled boiled fruit.



The cake batter will be quite thick.  The cakes won't rise much more than this when baked.


Let the cakes cool at least 10 minutes before removing from pan to cool on cake rack.   
Store in air-tight container for several days or freeze until needed.


Your guests will know you care when you provide for their needs.




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