Erica Lea on May 21st 2009
A week or so ago Mom made a trip to our favorite co-op. She brought back many delcious things, including some chopped dates. When she noticed me mixing them into my oatmeal, she protested and expressed a desire for date bread.
I was more than happy to oblige. So I found a recipe from a trusted source and gathered the required ingredients.
Confession: I made two mistakes while preparing this loaf. And it still turned out great! Gotta love Joy of Baking.
1) I added too much flour. Don’t ask me why. I just didn’t trust my usual, fail safe method of weighing the flour. So I had to add 1/4 cup of milk at the end of mixing. Surprisingly the extra mixing didn’t turn the bread into a brick.
2) I completely forgot to add the walnuts. The bread was sitting cozily in the oven when I noticed the walnuts, sitting on the counter, toasted, chopped, and ready to be used. Oh well. I took it in stride.
This bread was very moist and soft, even though I used all whole wheat flour. If you are leery of 100% whole wheat bread, simply use all-purpose flour in place of all or part of the wheat. Serve plane, with butter, or cream cheese.
And the word from Dad, the date hater: “That’s pretty good date bread.” Wow. It must be good.
Date and Walnut Bread
Adapted from Joy of Baking
8 ounces (225 grams) pitted dates, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup (240 ml) boiling water
2 cups (8 ounces) Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
1/2 cup Sucanat, demerara, or brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1) To prepare the dates: In a large bowl mix the chopped dates with the baking soda and a pinch of salt (1/8 teaspoon). Pour 1 cup of very hot water over the dates, stir, and leave to cool to room temperature (about 1 hour).
2) To make the batter: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven. Butter and flour a 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf pan. Set aside.
3) In a food processor place the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and ground cinnamon. Process to combine and then add the butter. Process until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Stir in the chopped walnuts.
4) In a separate bowl, whisk the egg with the vanilla extract. Fold the flour mixture and beaten egg mixture into the cooled dates (with their water). Stir until combined. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake until the bread has risen and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 55 to 65 minutes. Place on a wire rack and leave to cool for 10 minutes. Gently slide a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature. Or, if you will not be using the bread immediately, when the bread has almost completely cooled, wrap well in plastic wrap and place in a zippered bag to store.
Makes one - 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf.