English Apple & Date Cake With Coconut Topping

 

 

Steve and I visited England several summers ago. While we were there, we happened upon a memorable food experience. We were staying in a manor in the outskirts of London, which was set in a lovely area of lush green hills called Otford. It was straight out of my imagined Narnia, actually.

One night after a delicious, hearty meal (most likely a meat and potatoes concoction) we were served a steaming dessert. It was unlike any other dessert I’ve had before – it was kind of cake, kind of bread pudding, with a rich sweetness. After several bites, I decided that I simply needed to know 1) what we were eating, and 2) how to make it. The cooks in the kitchen were delighted that their dessert had gone over so successfully, and proceeded to make me a copy of the recipe. It turns out that the dessert was apple coconut date cake.

I have no idea if it is a typical English dessert, or simply a regional or family specialty unique to our hosts. In any case, I have since made it on several occasions. It is a wonderful winter dessert, and the perfect end to a holiday meal.

English Apple & Date Cake With Coconut Topping

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2 cups chopped dates
4 apples, grated
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 cups boiling water
1/2 cup butter
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups flour

Topping:
1/2 cup butter
1 cup coconut
4 tablespoons milk
1 cup brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Soak dates, grated apple, and baking soda in boiling water. Cool. Cream butter and sugar. beat in egg and vanilla. Mix dry ingredients alternately with wet. Pour into a greased 9×13 baking dish. Bake for 45 minutes. Meanwhile, melt butter, and mix in the remaining dry ingredients. Pour over the cake and bake for 10-15 more minutes, until toothpick comes out clean.

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