Almond and Prune Finger Cake

Now before you go screwing your face up at the thought of prunes in a cake let me jump to their defense - or at least my defense and tell you why they work in this cake. When I was a wee girl at school we were lucky enough to have some wonderful cooks that would bake us treats for breaktime (recess) and sell them to us for 10p a pop - even in them days that was an absolute steal. I always, without fail, bought two (one for each hand and all that) and one of them always was what I thought for a long time to be a 'sticky toffee slice' (I named it that). I goddamn loved those things; crispy, chewy, sticky, sweet. They were the tops.

The day I discovered my 'toffee slice' was in actual fact a date slice (ahhhhhhhh!!) was not a good day. I can't remember who told me or how I found out what they were made from but it broke me a little and after that I couldn't eat them. The mere thought of them turned my stomach. You see, I hated dates back then. Loathed them with every fibre of my being.

My experience of dates had been limited to Halloween when my Mother would buy some neglet dates and consume them like they were sweets. Every year I tried a date and every year I screwed my face up and spat the half chewed dirtball in the bin. Bleugh, bleugh, get out of my mouth, bleugh.

Fast forward to the present day and I am date freak. I honestly don't know what I'd do without them, they are a central part of my sweet intake - I use them in raw balls, cheesecake crusts, in smoothies, ice-cream and on their own (now I too eat them like sweets - well they do say we eventually turn into our Mothers!).

Prunes kinda remind me of Grannies - shall we say they have connotations that aren't exactly the most appetizing? Despite this I have put prunes back on the 'eat' list and have been using them in breakfast oats and even (shock) eating them on their own. That's right folks, I'm now happy to just pop one in my mouth and chew. Like sweets. Kinda.

Actual sweets would be a bit weird in cake but prunes give the perfect amount of chew amongst the moist, crumbly cake. Seriously. Really delicious. The cake would be a lesser cake without them.

Why 'finger cake'? Because you can pick it up all delicate like between your fingers - great for drinking with a cup of tea. In a teacup. With a saucer. You know my feelings on this one.

If you decide to put the batter in a smaller loaf tin, it probably could no longer be classified as a 'finger cake' and that would be disappointing. I want you to get in on the finger cake action. So a standard 2lb loaf tin it is. It will look like there is nothing in the tin but don't panic. It also won't rise up much. Again, don't panic. It's all good, it will taste fantastic and you will like the prunes.

almond and prune finger cake

1 cup white rice flour

1/4 cup brown rice flour

1/4 cup ground almonds

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp nutmeg

pinch pink Himalayan or rock salt

1 kiwi

1/4 cup oil

1/2 cup rice milk

1/4 tsp cider vinegar

1/4 tsp almond extract

5/6 small chopped prunes

Pre-heat the oven to 175 degrees celsius/350 fahrenheit.

Sift the flour, ground almonds, baking powder, bicarb, ground ginger, nutmeg, sugar and salt into a large bowl. Give it a gentle stir with a spatula.

Puree the kiwi in a hand blender and add the oil, milk, cider vinegar and almond extract and give it another very quick blitz to incorporate.

Chop the prunes into small pieces - I quartered them.

Grease the loaf tin with a little vegan margarine.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and thoroughly combine with a spatula ensuring not to over work the batter.

Finally, add the prunes and gently incorporate before transferring to the greased tin. Place in the centre of the oven and bake for 50 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool before removing it from the tin and transferring to a cooling rack covered with baking parchment (this will help when you cover it with the syrup).

Pierce holes all over the top of the cake using a cake tester or a chop stick.

amaretto sugar syrup

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup water

decent splash of amaretto

Place the sugar and water in a pan and swirl to dissolve. Bring to a gentle boil for about 5-10 minutes until it reduces to about a quarter cup of syrup.

Add the amaretto, swirl to incorporate and take it off the heat.

Allow to cool for a minute or two before carefully drizzling over the cake using a spoon.

Cover the cake with the baking parchment until completely cool before slicing.