Saturday, 20 October 2012

Food Waste Friday - What is it with prunes?

This week the food waste situation was very respectable, apart from throwing out last week's yogurt failure (I decided it was so awful it wasn't worth wasting more good ingredients to try and rescue it) so I turned my attention to the store cupboards and the freezer.

Our attempts to brighten up breakfast time have continued, especially now the mornings are darker and colder. Tinned grapefruit is a breakfast item enjoyed by all of us, so why not introduce tinned prunes to the breakfast menu? Optimistically, I bought two tins. You probably won't be surprised to find that this wasn't a popular move.  I couldn't even make myself like them, let alone the kids.

The second tin of prunes has been sitting sadly in the cupboard and looking at me disappointedly when I pass them by in favour of the baked beans or tinned tomatoes. This week, with my eye on stuff that's been sitting around for a while, it was their turn.

At the end of the summer holiday, my treat for traipsing round the shops in search of school uniform, was the purchase of Delia's Frugal Food. In recent years, my cookery books have been severely culled to just the all-time favourites that fit on top of the fridge*. If you're a cookery book in my house, you have to earn your keep, and at the moment Delia's justifying the space; her fishcakes, leek, carrot and potato pie, cauliflower, egg and celery au gratin and chickpea cutlets have all been a hit. I fully expected her date, prune and walnut cake to meet with similar success.

To use up the whole tin of prunes (half a tin of prunes in the fridge would be surefire food waste next week), I doubled the cake mix quantities. Those fruity loaves look yummy, yes?

The adults in the house certainly think so! And Delia thinks so: "This is a nice nutty wholemal cake, delicious cut in thick slices and spread with butter." The prunes are so well mixed in as to be invisible, and completely undetectable by taste. Not so to the children and their Thursday guests (the ones who are infamous for eating anything that's put in front of them with great gusto, including spaghetti with ketchup). Son is always fond of reminding us of a fact he once read on the side of a fromage frais pot; that adults have half the number of taste buds that children do, and that is why we will eat yucky stuff and he won't. Is prune loaf yet more evidence to support his case?

You will have to make it one day and decide for yourselves!

Date, Prune and Walnut Cake (makes one loaf)

  • 75g dried prunes, soaked overnight (or ready-to-eat pitted prunes). I used tinned prunes and removed the stones.
  • 100g butter, plus a little extra
  • 175g soft brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 110g wholemeal flour
  • 110g plain flour
  • A pinch of salt. (I didn't add this)
  • 1 level teaspoon of baking powder
  • 75g pitted dates
  • 110g walnuts, roughly chopped (I used less)
  • 3 - 4 tbsp semi-skimmed milk
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C/Gas Mark 4.

Butter a 13cm x 23cm loaf tin well. Chop the prunes into largish pieces. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs a little at a time. Fold the sifted flour, salt and baking powder into the creamed mixture. Now add the prunes, dates and walnuts, followed by the milk, and mix them in. (I mixed the whole lot in the food processor). Spread it out evenly.

Bake for 1 hour, or until a skewer comes out clean. Let the cake cool for a minute or two, then turn it out.

* The other cookery book in the photo is another frugal favourite. This week I also baked a treacle tart using a recipe from this book, to use up my breadcrumb mountain from the freezer. I'll post the recipe soon!

Food Waste Friday was dreamt up by, to encourage people to use up food instead of waste it.


  1. I used to tell them that the prunes were giant raisins. Love teabreads and so easy to make and often they don't need any fat. Must check out Frugal Food, I have an old copy lying about somewhere.

    1. Maybe dried 'giant raisin' prunes are a better introduction than tinned prunes?

  2. It's interesting that I like prunes as a child but not now. Not sure what that says about my taste buds.

    1. That is interesting! Maybe your taste buds are becoming more fewer but more refined!

  3. Now that sounds delicious to me. So maybe I'm a really old geezer, and have no taste buds left. When my kids don't like something that I do, I just say "all the more for me, then!"

    1. Those were my words exactly when the four children rejected the prune cake!

  4. oh i love prunes and natural yogurt yummy