Behind the scenes on the March/April 2017 NZ Life & Leisure cover shoot PLUS Apple and Date cake recipe

Photographer Rachael Hale McKenna captured this magical moment (which also appears on this NZ Life & Leisure cover) at Dunbarton Orchard, near Roxburgh. The children – Fletcher and Peri Chisolm and Charlize McKenna (right) – spent the morning racing between the rows of braeburns before slowing down for a slice of cake with Fletcher and Peri’s mum Michegro.

After a picnic lunch, the kids read stories under the trees before collecting boxes of fruit to take home. Find the recipe for this easy and delicious Apple and Date Cake below.




130g brown sugar (1/2 to 2/3rds cup firmly packed)
60g butter
half cup rolled oats
half cup walnuts roughly chopped
3 tablespoons milk


180g roughly chopped dates (we used pitted Medjool dates)
1 teaspoon baking soda
grated orange zest of one orange
125g butter at room temperature
200g sugar (3/4 approximately)
1 egg lightly beaten
half a teaspoon of vanilla extract
225g flour (gluten free option- use a mix of almond meal and GF flour)
375g apples (approximately 2 large) cored and diced


To make the Topping

1. Put the brown sugar, butter rolled oats, nuts and milk in a small saucepan over moderate heat.

2. Stir until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is bubbling.

3. Warm before spreading on the cake.

To make the cake

1. Pre-heat the oven to 170°C. Lightly grease and line with baking paper a 23cm square cake tin or a round cake tin.

2. Put the dates, baking soda, orange zest, and juice of one orange in a small bowl. If you are using packet dates that are dried instead of Medjool dates, you will need to soak them in a third of a cup of water and wait for the dates to soften for approximately one hour. If using Medjool dates no need for soaking as they are already soft.

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3. Put the butter and sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until creamy and soft.

4. Add the egg and beat until creamy and will combined.

5. Remove the bowl from the electric mixer. Add the dates, vanilla, flour and apples and mix to just combine.

6. Transfer the mixture to the prepared tin and spread evenly over the base.

7. Put into the preheated oven and bake for 30 minutes or until just set but not cooked.

8. Briefly after removing from the oven, spoon the warm topping over the cake and spread to cover.

9. Return to the oven and bake for a further 15 minutes or until the topping is golden and toasted.

10. Remove the cake from the oven and cool.

11. Remove from tin

Note: This cake can be served warm or cold

The NZ Life & Leisure March/April 2017 issue is on sale March 6.

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