Donna Hay’s sticky date meringue cake

This sticky date meringue cake recipe should be served chilled from the refrigerator, with a delicate dusting of icing sugar on top.

From Modern Baking by Donna Hay

SERVES 8-10

5 soft fresh dates (100g), pitted and roughly chopped
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
80ml boiling water
50g unsalted butter, softened
½ tsp vanilla extract
90g light brown sugar
1 tbsp finely grated orange rind
2 medium eggs, at room temperature
100g self-raising flour, sifted
30g ground almonds
1½ tbsp golden syrup
35g slivered pistachios
150ml egg whites (about 4 eggs), at room temperature, extra, see note
220g caster sugar
1 tsp white vinegar
1 tbsp cornflour
icing sugar, for dusting

1. Preheat oven to 160C/gas 2½. Line a 24cm round springform tin with nonstick baking paper. Place the dates, bicarbonate of soda and water in a medium bowl. Set aside for 15 minutes to soak. Using a hand-held stick blender, blend until smooth.
2. Place the butter, vanilla, sugar and orange rind in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on high speed for 10-12 minutes or until pale and creamy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the flour, date mixture, ground almonds, golden syrup and pistachios and beat until well combined. Spoon into the tin and bake for 30-35 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer. Allow to cool in the tin.
3. Increase the oven temperature to 180C/gas 4. Place the egg whites in a clean bowl of the electric mixer and whisk on high speed until stiff peaks form. Add the sugar, one tablespoon at a time, whisking for 30 seconds before adding more. Whisk for a further 6 minutes or until stiff and glossy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the vinegar and cornflour and whisk for 2 minutes to combine.
4. Spread the meringue over the top of the cake and bake for 15-20 minutes or until the meringue is just golden and dry to the touch. Allow the cake to stand at room temperature for 15 minutes. Gently run a knife around the inside edge of the tin and remove the ring. Allow to cool slightly. Refrigerate for 2 hours. Dust with icing sugar to serve.

NOTE It’s best to measure the egg whites – egg sizes do vary.

Modern Baking by Donna Hay will be published by Fourth Estate on 18 October, price £30. To pre-order a copy for £24 (a 20 per cent discount) until 21 October, visit mailshop.co.uk/books, or call 0844 571 0640; p&p is free on orders over £15. Donna’s TV series Basics to Brilliance Kids continues on UKTV until 26 October; to be followed by Basics to Brilliance later in the year. To mark the publication of Modern Baking, she will be in London at the end of October for events at Fortnum & Mason (fortnumandmason.com for details) and The Soho Hotel (firmdale.com for details). And you can catch Donna on BBC Saturday Kitchen on 3 November.