Recipie: travellers’ steamed date loaf

Well, strictly speaking, this is not a recipe for a completely different dish, but it’s certainly a novel way of cooking it.

My good mate Sonja spent the better part of 2009 on the road. Along with hubby Paul, she hit the bitumen and travelled around most of Australia in a converted mini-bus; a roomy vehicle compared with some, but as always, space is at a premium under those circumstances.

Nomads learn to adapt and improvise and that was certainly the case, which resulted in this week’s recipe.

Essentially a steamed date loaf, the flavour is not that much different to more conventional recipes; the difference here is that it is cooked in a soup or baked beans can.

Of course, the advantage is that she didn’t have to pack a special tin in which to cook this versatile loaf. Just remove the paper label, wash the can well and make sure the top is removed with a clean edge for safety.

The recipe is versatile in that it can be served cut into slices and buttered for afternoon tea, or accompanied by a bought vanilla custard, cream or ice cream for dessert. A bit more golden syrup poured on top doesn’t go astray, either. If you’re up for a bit of extra effort, make a simple butterscotch sauce to turn it into a sticky date pudding.

This quantity makes three can-sized loaves. If you are on the move, you can have one for dessert and keep the others for a treat the next day or so (sealed in an airtight container). If you’re happily at home, ask the neighbours in or freeze the leftovers for up to three months.

Of course, you don’t have to be on the road to enjoy this simple treat but it helps to have the odd empty can lying around.



What you need:

1 tblspn butter

1 cup boiling water

1/2 cup golden syrup

1 cup dates, pitted and diced

1 tspn bicarb soda

1 egg, beaten

2 cups self-raising flour

1/2 cup walnuts

1 tspn allspice

1 tspn ground ginger

to serve: custard; cream; ice cream; golden syrup OR

Butterscotch sauce

1/3 cup brown sugar

40g butter

1/2 cup cream

what you do:

Combine butter, water, golden syrup, dates and bicarbonate of soda in a small bowl.

Allow to cool then add egg and stir until combined.

Pour mixture into flour, add walnuts and spices and stir to combine.

Grease three empty clean soup cans (labels removed). Pour one-third of batter into each can and cover each with a double loose layer of greased foil big enough to come half-way down the sides of each can.

Place cans in a saucepan and fill pan with enough boiling water to come two-thirds of the way up the sides of the cans.

Bring to the boil, cover and simmer 30-40 minutes.

Carefully remove from saucepan and stand cans for five minutes.

Slide loaves out.

Sauce: Melt butter in a small saucepan. Stir in brown sugar and stir until it reaches a gentle boil. Reduce heat and simmer for five minutes. Add cream and reheat to the point of boiling.

To serve: Slice and pour butterscotch sauce over; or serve with custard, cream, or ice cream; pour a little extra golden syrup over if preferred.

Alternatively, cool, slice and spread with butter.

Makes three small loaves.

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