Healthy Loaf Cake Recipe With Pitted Dates and Dried Apricots

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Eat this healthy loaf cake recipe plain or with butter. It’s all up to you.
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In “A Change of Appetite,” author Diana Henry shares the recipes that she created when she began to crave a different, healthier diet in her daily life.
10 servings SERVINGS


  • 1-1/2 sticks unsalted butter, plus extra for the pan
  • 1 cup chopped pitted dates
  • 2/3 cup chopped dried apricots
  • 1/3 cup apple juice
  • 2/3 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • finely grated zest of 1 orange
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • good pinch of allspice
  • really generous grating of nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds, plus extra for the top (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons sunflower seeds
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds (optional)


  • Butter a loaf pan measuring 9 x 4-1/2 x 2-1/2 inches and line the bottom with parchment paper. Put the dates and apricots in a saucepan with the apple juice and 3–4 tablespoons of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat right down and simmer for 15 minutes. You will have something that looks like a puree. Let cool. Melt the butter and let it cool, too. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Add the butter to the dates and apricots with the sugar, zest, and egg. Sift the flours into a bowl, then add the bran caught in the sifter back into the bowl. Add the baking powder, allspice, nutmeg, nuts, and pumpkin and sunflower seeds. Add the date and egg mixture, stirring it into the dry ingredients. Make sure everything is combined, but don’t overwork the dough. Scrape into the pan and sprinkle with the sesame seeds and extra pumpkin seeds (if using).
  • Bake in the hot oven for 1-1/4 hours, until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack, remove the paper, and turn the right way up. Let cool. Eat in slices, either plain or, if you prefer, with butter. Want more recipes from A Change of Appetite?Japanese Soba Noodles RecipeKale Pesto With Linguine RecipeVegetable Fritters RecipeWinter Salad Recipe With Grapefruit
    This excerpt has been reprinted with permission from A Change of Appetite: Where Healthy Meets Delicious by Diana Henry and published by Mitchell Beazley, 2014. Purchase this book from our store: A Change of Appetite.

When food writer Diana Henry had a change of appetite, and began craving less meat and heavy food, and more vegetable-, fish- and grain-based dishes, these are the dishes she served. Often inspired by the food of the Middle East and Far East, but also drawing on cuisines from Georgia to Scandinavia, the recipes in A Change of Appetite (Mitchell Beazley, 2014) are nothing less than fabulous. This Healthy Loaf Cake Recipe With Pitted Dates and Dried Apricots is from the section “Fall.” 

You can purchase this book from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS store: A Change of Appetite.

This is not so healthy that you can eat it with abandon (it is full of dried fruits, which are high in sugar, not to mention the stuff that comes in a bag), but it uses good whole-grain flours and has plenty of good-for-you nuts and seeds in it, too. It’s a great Saturday or Sunday afternoon treat because it’s so easy and quick to make (mix, scrape into the pan, put it in the oven). My kids like it just as much as chocolate cake. They eat it warm spread with butter … what’s not to like?