In this easy, delicious date and banana cake, I use the spice baharat, a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom and allspice. It is mostly used for savoury dishes, but I love it as an alternative for plain cinnamon in cakes and puddings. Dates meanwhile add a distinctive sweetness to all kinds of dishes – the large, soft Medjool dates are my favourite, originally from the Middle East and North Africa and now grown in Australia.
200g castor sugar
200g olive oil
3 ripe bananas
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp baharat spice
250g plain flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp sea salt
200g Medjool dates, pitted and roughly chopped
250g icing sugar
1 orange for zesting
120g butter, softened
2 tbsp orange juice
70g dates, roughly chopped
50g flaked almonds, toasted
Preheat the oven to 180C and line a 30-centimetre-round cake tin.
Mix the sugar, eggs, oil, bananas, vanilla and baharat with a stick blender or food processor to make a light batter.
Sieve together the flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and salt, add to the batter with the chopped dates and beat well. Pour mix into the cake tin and bake for 45-60 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
Remove the cake from the oven, cool for five minutes and turn out onto a wire rack.
For the icing, sieve the icing sugar into a large bowl. Zest the orange directly into the icing sugar to catch the oil that sprays off the orange. Add the butter and juice and beat well until smooth and thick (add more juice if it's too thick).
Pour the icing over the cake and smooth to cover the top. Press the chopped dates into the icing then scatter the almonds over the top.