Have I mentioned how it has crossed my mind to turn Shoot To Cook into an all-baking blog? Don’t worry, I’m not going to but it sometimes is tempting. If it weren’t for my fear of my slowing metabolism in old age, the scourge of carbs, and my general concerns about obesity I’d eat nothing but fresh baked breads, soft pretzels, cookies, croissants and quick breads, like Date Nut Bread.
A few months ago when I was in the southwest with my dad, I picked up several pounds of delicious medjool dates, fresh from the Imperial Date Garden in Bard, California. I had every intention of making all sorts of date related dishes on my return, but the dates god pushed to the back of the fridge and only resurfaced this weekend when I was cleaning. Luckily for me, dates store very well in the fridge, so I had everything I needed to make date bread.
I recently made a delicious banana bread which was a huge success. I have been pining after that banana cake ever since the morning I crawled out of bed with visions of a banana bread breakfast only to find that Dr. Fiance had taken the last of it to work with her. She’s lucky I love her for other reasons and am able to find it within myself to forgive her propensity to baked goods thievery. This time around I decided to make enough to last a little longer. I may hide the second loaf so she can’t find it. “What honey? No, there was only one loaf here. Seriously!”
I was skeptical about my date bread for two reasons. First, I was so in love with my banana bread that I was worried about being disappointed by the date bread. This bread had big shoes to fill. Second, I have mixed feelings about molasses, and this recipe calls for a half cup of the stuff. Growing up in Central PA I had to eat a fair bit of shoo-fly pie, which is a Pennsylvania Dutch concoction made almost entirely of molasses. I do ok with the drier versions of shoo-fly pie, but the true connoisseurs claim that “real” shoo-fly pie has to be wet, sticky, and have the consistency of really old motor oil. Not a fan.
I needn’t have worried. The date bread is moist without being sticky, and the walnuts cut the sugar resulting in a bread that is sweet without being cloying. Top it with some cream cheese and you have a perfect mid-morning snack to eat with a cup of coffee. You can easily halve this recipe and make one loaf, but seriously, don’t skimp and make two loaves.
Date Nut Bread Recipe
This is a quick bread which works for any meal. Sweet and nutty, it goes great with a nice cup of coffee. Cut the strong flavor with a little cream cheese. Makes two loaves – why make less? Delicious!
1.5 cups boiling water
3 cups chopped dates
2 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses
4 teaspoons vanilla
4 large eggs, beaten
2 cups chopped walnuts
2 cup all purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 buttered loaf pans
Preheat your oven for 350 degrees. Pour the boiling water over the dates and butter in a medium sized bowl. Stir to combine and melt the butter, then let the mixture cool until lukewarm. Puree 1/3 of the mixture (more if you like a smoother bread) in a food processor, then add the puree back into the remaining date mixture and stir. Add in the brown sugar, molasses, vanilla, eggs and walnuts, mix well.
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, powder, soda and salt. Combine with the wet ingredients and mix until just combined. Pour half into two buttered loaf pans. Bake for approximately 60 minutes until the middle of each loaf rises up out of the pan. Allow to cool on a rack for at least an hour before eating. Serve with cream cheese.