Date, Almond, Coconut & Chocolate Energy Balls

Energy Balls 1

 

Ask anyone who knows me well and they’ll tell you that exercise isn’t really my thing. The closest I’ve come to organised sport is a rather inappropriate Saturday job at JJB Sports whilst I was in the sixth form, not sure what I was thinking there.

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If it wasn’t for the massive amount of cake involved in writing a food blog I doubt I would ever exercise at all. As it stands, there are only 2 things that get me through a painful gym session: an old episode of Downton Abbey on my iPad (new series starts tonight!!) and one (or maybe two) of these scrumptious energy balls.

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Pop a stock of these chocolatey, coconuty, almondy balls in your fridge (or freezer) and you’ve got yourself some bite sized bursts of energy at your finger tips, just the ticket for a post-work workout. They’re also perfect for that afternoon slump, when you just can’t go on without something sweet. Just keep in mind that they’re not chocolate truffles, they’re packed full of dates, and if you get too carried away you may be spending a little more time in the smallest room of the house than you’re used to! (apologies for lowering the tone!) (continue reading…)

Apricot & Date Tea Loaf

Tea Loaf

Let’s talk tea loaf. For the uninitiated, a tea loaf is a fabulously moist tea cake that gets its moisture, not from fat, but from beautifully, fragrant tea. In this case orange scented, Earl Grey tea.

Apricots

For me, tea loaf is reminiscent of one of my favourite childhood treats, malt loaf, (only without the malt, obvs!). Every Sunday evening of my childhood, almost without fail, dessert consisted of a marvellous, chunky slice of malt loaf with a delicate spreading of margarine.

Tea Loaf 2

Yeah, yeah, I know, margarine ewww. But in my defence we were a fairly low fat household and I didn’t know any better! Besides the marg was there more as an extra layer of moisture than for flavour. I’m not ashamed people!

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This cake, however, is so amazingly moist and sticky that you absolutely don’t need any extra butter (or marg!) on it. Although I just couldn’t resist! The moisture comes from the fact that the dried fruit is soaked, overnight, in warm tea. By the morning the fruit has doubled in size and is wonderfully sweet and juicy.

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The softened fruit also makes this the ideal cake for all those fruit cake haters out there. I promise that they will barely even notice that there’s any dried fruit in there!

Its other advantage is how incredibly simple it is to make. Hardly any ingredients and made in one bowl, what more could you ask for?

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Apricot & Date Tea Loaf

Ingredients:

150g dried apricots
130g dates
300ml strong hot earl grey tea
340g self raising flour
110g granulated sugar
1 heaped teaspoon ground allspice (or a mixture of nutmeg and cinnamon is also lovely)
1 beaten egg

Make the tea using 2 teabags and leave it to cool slightly. Chop each of the apricots and dates into around 3 pieces and put them all in a large mixing bowl.  Once the tea is lukewarm, pour it over the fruit, cover the bowl with a clean tea towel and leave it overnight.

In the morning, preheat the oven to 180 C / 160 C fan oven / 350 F and grease and line a 2lb loaf tin.

Add all the rest of the ingredients to the mixing bowl, stir well to combine and pop it into the baking tin, smoothing the top.

Bake for 1 hour or until a skewer can be inserted into the middle of the cake and is clean when removed.

Serve with or without butter, but definitely with a lovely cup of tea!

Tea Loaf 6