Bake Off contestant shares recipe for Virtuous cake

Great British Bake Off contestant Val Stones took part in the 2016 competition, leaving in week five.

Monday, 22nd February 2021, 4:03 pm
Updated Monday, 22nd February 2021, 4:04 pm

Now a baking expert for stair-lift company Stannah, she shares her recipe for .Val's Virtuous Cake

Serves: 8-10

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Val's cake

Cooking Time: 50 minutes for one large cake or 40 minutes for two tins


A sharp knife for cutting the fruit

2lb loaf tin or two 1lb loaf tins


250g stoned dried dates, roughly chopped

300ml water

170g wholemeal self-raising flour (which can be swapped out for gluten-free flour)

1 level teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon mixed spice

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

500g dried fruit – I use 250g chopped dried apricots, 150g sultanas and 100g raisins. Cherries and dried cranberries also work

50g ground almonds

80ml freshly squeezed orange juice

Zest of two oranges


Preheat the oven to 160C fan, 180C, 350F, gas mark 4 or equivalent.

Line the baking tins.

Pour the dates and water in a microwaveable bowl, then cook for 10 minutes on medium power so that the water is just bubbling. Remove the bowl and set aside.

Sieve the flour, baking powder and spices into a bowl then add to the date mixture.

Add the dried fruits, almonds, zest and orange juice, then mix well until all the flour is incorporated.

Spoon into the loaf tin(s).

Bake for 45-50 mins, or until a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes then turn out onto a cooling rack.

Store in an airtight container. This will keep the cake fresh for up to a week or more, as the fruits mature and moisten the cake so that it doesn’t dry out. If you wish, the cake can be frozen for up to a month.

Val’s Top Tip – The cake doesn’t rise much in the oven. In fact, it stays flat (which is perfect for a celebration cake) so I slightly mound up the middle of the cake, as it will look like it has risen once baked.