I’m going to utter the ‘D’ word. Here it comes: DIET. Ugh. Must do better next Christmas and remember, as I fall face down into Batch 28 of the homemade mince pies, that they will, without question, make my bottom big. Along with other bits of me. Their consumption will apparently make my rain jacket so tight that when I bend over to pick something up from the floor, it will unzip itself – unprompted by human hand – from the bottom upwards. Ooops.
I am now into Week 3 of Slimming World-friendly food, and there are three and a half kilos less of me, and there have been no further public declarations of distress by the wilful rain jacket. Just another five kilos to go and we are done – if you say it quickly, it sounds easy.
It’s been a long few weeks with barely a morsel of cake and very little intake on the wine front too. I am sure that February was not designed for this behaviour – it is the very time to be sitting in front of the wood stove with a glass of sherry and a piece of leftover Christmas cake. I would say ‘leftover mince pie’ but in our house I don’t think a mince pie has ever had the opportunity linger beyond the end of December – they’ve all been snaffled long before the year is out.
Anyway, I was browsing through the Slimming World archive and came across their recipe for a Weetabix fruit cake. Now, particularly as one of my friends (you know who you are Barbara) said the very thought of it made her want to vomit, I felt compelled to give it a go. Their recipe was for a 500g loaf tin (what we used to call a 1lb loaf tin in old money), but I don’t have any of those, so I increased the quantities by 50%, added two bananas because they needed using up, and used a 1kg loaf tin instead. What could possibly go wrong?
Well actually, not very much. I did leave it in the oven for longer than was strictly advisable, because I decided to cover it up with foil after 45 minutes, then put it back in the oven without remembering to reset the timer. But this cake is very heavy on fruit, so had not dried out and came to no real harm.
The cake has something of the texture of bread pudding and tastes a little like a malt loaf, so it’s perfect with a cup of tea when you are in the mood for something sweet. It is high in fibre because of the Weetabix, bananas and dried fruit, and it contains no added sugar or fat, just the stuff naturally in the fruit and the eggs. Does that mean we can eat twice as much then? Possibly not. I sliced mine and put it in the freezer, and can report that it is spectacularly good toasted straight from frozen – it doesn’t even require butter to be delicious.
For those of you following the Slimming World diet, this works out at just under 4 syns per slice if you cut it into 16 slices. If you are not a very accurate slicer or don’t have a sharp knife, you’ll have to count the slices and recalculate your syns accordingly. Total number of syns in the entire thing is 62, if that helps.
I’ve used Sukrin Gold as the sweetener, because it is not made from horrid synthetic chemicals and acts and tastes very much like real sugar. It has zero calories and it’s great for adding to things like stir fries or barbecue sauces, where you would normally add honey or maple syrup. You can buy Sukrin Gold (as well an icing sugar version) from Holland & Barrett and online at Amazon. It is expensive, but a packet lasts for ages – in this recipe, you can replace it with any sweetener of your choice.
Weetabix & Banana Cake
300ml skimmed milk
2 very ripe bananas
2 large eggs
3 level tablespoons Sukrin Gold (or other sweetener)
150g self-raising flour
2 teaspoons mixed spice
½ teaspoon baking powder
150g mixed dried fruit (or just use sultanas if you prefer)
You will need a 1kg loaf tin, lined with non-stick paper or very well greased
Measure the milk into a jug and push the Weetabix down into the milk – if it is not completely submerged, let it soften for a minute or two, then push in the rest. Leave for at least 15 minutes – it will turn into a thick mush. Pre-heat the oven to 160°C.
Mash the bananas in a mixing bowl, then whisk in the eggs, sweetener and the Weetabix mixture. Whisk well until everything is well combined.
Sieve in the flour, spice and baking powder, making sure there are no lumps, then stir in the dried fruit and put the mixture into the lined (or greased) tin.
Bake for 45 minutes, then check to see how much the cake is browning – if necessary, cover the top loosely with foil. Return to the oven for another 30 minutes – if the cake is baked, it will feel firm when pressed in the centre. If not, bake for another ten minutes and check again. The cake mixture is quite wet – don’t be alarmed if your cake sags in the middle a little as it cools, mine did, but it did not affect the taste or texture.
Cut in to 16 slices and freeze on the day.