I LIKE THIS RECIPE BECAUSE ... who doesn't like a treat? The light texture, along with the sweetness of the toffee, the juciness of the strawberries and sharpness of balsamic vinegar just creates a perfect blend, so this cake will cheer up a miserable day.
For the cake
175g butter soft butter
75g muscovado sugar
4 large eggs
4 tablespoons vanilla extract
3 tablespoons baking powder
2 tablespoons mixed spice powder
2 tablespoons milk
175g dates chopped in half
175g self-raising flour
For the toffee sauce
175g muscovado sugar
1 tablespoon golden syrup
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
3 tablespoons double cream
For the topping
50g softened butter
50g icing sugar
2 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 punnet of fresh stawberries, washed, dried and shopped in half
2 tablespoons dried mint granules
1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C/160 fan. Grease a 9-inch sandwich tin and line with baking parchment.
2. Place the butter and sugar into a medium sized bowl and mix until fluffy; you can use a mixer to do this but I find a hand blender works really well for this.
3. Mix in the dates, golden syrup, mixed-spice and milk.
3. Stir in the vanilla extract, fold in the self-raising flour and baking power: use a wooden spoon rather than a mixer or blender to ensure the air remains in the mixture.
4. Pour into the sandwich tin; with a knife flatten down the mixture and place in the oven for 25 minutes. To check it is completely baked carefully push a skewer into the cake and see if it comes out clean. If it does, it is ready to remove. Leave to cool.
5. To make the sauce, place the sugar, butter, golden syrup and vanilla extract into a small saucepan. Bring the boil but continually stir ro avoid the sauce burning. Once the sauce is a thick golden consistecy and the sugar has dissolved stir in the cream.
6. Once cool, carefully prick the cake with a fork to make six holes at various different points of the cake. Use a teaspoon to carefully transfer the sauce into the cake.
7. For the topping, place the butter, sugar, milk and balsamic vinegar into a small bowl or blender and mix until smooth. Again, a hand blender does this well.
8. Transfer the cake to a stand or plate; pour over the topping and decorate with the strawberries and finish with the dried mint.