Sunday, 2 June 2013

Tea-infused prune cake with honey buttercream

Prunes seem a divisive fruit, possibly because of bad childhood memories of bowls of stewed fruit so favoured by elderly relatives.  Perhaps I was an odd child (and adult) as I have always loved them.  I love their sticky sweetness and dark glossy looks.  With the dark sugar in this recipe, the prunes actually taste a lot like dates.  The CCD (Caked Crusader's Da) thought it was a sticky toffee cake...and I know what he meant;  only the spice suggests otherwise.

When I told Mr CC I was making a tea-infused prune cake this weekend his expression suggested I was joking and would I please tell him what I was really planning on making?  When he realised I wasn’t joking his expression changed to horror.  This occasionally happens re my choice of cake and invariably, a couple of days later Mr CC will try said cake (often at work, as he takes any leftovers in for his colleagues) and report ‘I tried a bit of [insert cake here] and do you know it was actually quite nice.’ This is always said in a tone that implies he finds this the most surprising thing in the history of the universe!

It seems odd adding teabags to a cake...remember to remove them before baking!  NB. I have two teabags in this photo as I doubled the quantities and made two cakes - the recipe below stating one bag is correct.

Perhaps I’m easily entertained but I always enjoy watching the bubbles created when I add bicarb to something:

This is a cake that smells great whilst baking – it’s fruity and the dark sugar gives off toffee aromas.  The cake settles on cooling but this isn’t an issue as it’s a big domed loaf when you take it out the oven.  The settling just makes it normal sized!

The recipe originally had a coffee buttercream and I didn’t see the point in pairing a tea-infused cake with such a flavour.  I changed it to a honey buttercream and thought the combination worked really well.


For the cake:
225g prunes – de-stoned and chopped
250ml water
1 teabag – use whichever tea you prefer, I used English breakfast
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
85g unsalted butter, at room temperature
175g dark brown sugar
2 eggs
175g self raising flour
50g walnuts – very finely chopped
1 teaspoon mixed spice

For the buttercream:
110g unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 tablespoons honey
250g icing sugar


Preheat the oven to 180°C/ fan oven 160°C/350°F/gas mark 4.

Line a 900g (2lb) loaf tin with baking paper.

Place the prunes and water into a saucepan (choose one a little larger than you think you need as the mix will bubble up when you add the bicarbonate of soda) and bring to the boil over a medium heat.

Remove from the heat and add the teabag.  Stir the mix so the teabag is buried under prunes.

Leave to infuse for five minutes.

Remove the teabag and stir in the bicarbonate of soda.  It will bubble up considerably.

Put to one side.

Now make the cake batter: beat together the butter and sugar until creamy.  It won’t become whippy or really light because of the ratios involved and the fact that it’s dark brown sugar rather than caster.

Beat in the eggs one at a time, adding a little of the flour if it looks like it might curdle.

Fold in the flour, walnuts and mixed spice.  You will have a very thick batter at this point – don’t worry!

Stir in the prunes (the liquid as well) and make sure that you mix it well, using a spatula to bring the thick batter up from the bottom of the bowl.

Pour (I used a ladle for greater control) the batter into the prepared tin.  The mix will be liquid enough to level itself.

Bake for approximately 40-50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.  Don’t worry if it takes a little longer.

Leave to cool for 20 minutes in the tin, before removing from the tin and leaving to cool completely on a wire rack.

When the cake is cold you can make the buttercream: beat the butter and honey together until smooth and soft.

Add the icing sugar and beat – on a low speed at first – until the buttercream is smooth and has no hint of grittiness to it.  Grittiness is a sign that you haven’t beaten the buttercream enough to dissolve the sugar.

Pipe or spread the buttercream over the cake.

Serve in thick slices with a mug of tea.

Bask in the glory of the wonderful thing you have created.



Laura Loves Cakes said...

This looks fab and I bet it tastes great! I actually have the same recipe to bake in the next week or so, if not very similar...hope it turns out as good as yours! :-)

Patricia said...

I love tea in my fruit cake and I love prunes, and both with honey buttercream - delicious - must try this soon!! Please may I put a link on my blog to yours? Thanks, Patricia

Anonymous said...

This looks amazing! Was the tea flavour very strong? I've tried to make tea-infused cakes before but the flavour has always been very subtle.

The Caked Crusader said...

Hi Hungry baker!

The tea was subtle - you could always make it stronger by infusing it longer or using two bags

Happy baking

The Caked Crusader said...

Hi Patricia

I would be honoured it you linked to me!

Happy baking

Cakelaw said...

I have always loved prunes too. This cake sounds right up my alley.

Recipe Junkie said...

I love LOVE cakes made like this with tea and fruit. I have been contemplating a coffee infused date cake over the last few days, and this has spurred me on.

Jo said...

What a great looking cake, love your spiky icing! Really like the sound of all the flavours too, I like the toffee quality you get with a dark brown sugar bake.

Katie said...

That sounds gorgeous. I love the stickiness tea cakes have. I adore prunes too, they have such a bad stigma , but they are only dried plums! Yummy

Susie @ Fold in the Flour said...

This looks really moist and I love the flavours you've used. The prunes aren't off putting at all and I bet they work really well in this. :)

Vintage Amethyst said...

This looks so delicious & I absolutely love prunes!

sensibilia said...

I mis-read the title as "Tea-Infested" and thought, "YES!"

Tea, prunes and honey, three of my favourite things. I think I can justify eating this for breakfast!

Choclette said...

I think even the most hardened prune hater would be won over by your description. I always liked them too, but as I wasn't allowed much in the way of sweet food as a child, I guess anything vaguely sweet got my vote. Also agree your honey topping sounds heaps better than a coffee one.

Maggie said...

I love prunes in bakes because the cake seems to get stickier. Your loaf cake looks delicious.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this recipe, I'm going to use it to take to my cake club to celebrate Yorkshire tea day