Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 35 minutes
Makes 6 muffins
Suitable for freezing


*110g (4oz) pitted dates, chopped
*110ml (4fl oz) water
*55g (2oz) butter
*55g (2oz) dark muscovado sugar
*50ml (2fl oz) milk
*1 egg, beaten
*½tsp vanilla extract
*110g plain flour
*½tsp bicarbonate of soda
*½tsp baking powder
*30g (1oz) raisins
*a muffin baking tray, lined with paper cases

For the frosting:
*30g (1oz) unsalted butter, softened
*100g (4oz) cream cheese, such as Philadelphia
*a few drops of vanilla extract (optional)
*75g (3oz) icing sugar
*grated orange zest (optional)


1. Simmer the dates in the water for 10 minutes until very soft, and the water has been absorbed. Cool for 10 minutes. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C, 160°C fan oven, 350°F, gas 4.
2. Melt the butter and stir in the sugar. Allow to cool slightly, then mix in the dates, milk, egg and vanilla extract.
3. Sift together the flour, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder. Mix in the raisins. Add the liquid mixture to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
4. Spoon in enough mix to half-fill each case on the muffin tray. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until risen and slightly firm to the touch. Cool on a wire rack.
5. For the frosting, beat together the butter, cream cheese and vanilla (if using). Gradually beat in the icing sugar. Spread over the muffins and sprinkle with orange zest, if you want.