Gosh, I love dates.
No, no…not the literal kinds. Erm…on second thoughts, I like those too with my husband. But, what I mean is that I love the date fruit. There is something about its gooey sweetness that appeals to my soul. My husband and daughters hate it. They loathe it. Fine by me! The way I see it, there’s more for me to eat.
Anyways, so great is my love for this fruit that there was a time a few years back when friends and family visiting from the mid-east brought me only dates as a gift. Not that I was complaining. Nope!
But, having so many dates did present a conundrum, did it not? I mean what to do with them. They do not spoil for the longest time but then what do you make with them that the family would eat? My solution was to make this super yummylicious date and walnut bread.
And, you know what – my family loves it too…dates and all.
DATE AND WALNUT BREAD
- 1 ½ cups of coarsely chopped dates (make sure to use the seedless variety. You may use the ones with seed too but trust me it is too much bother to remove the seeds before use.)
- ½ tsp baking soda
- 2 pinches table salt
- 1 cup boiling water (and, I do mean boiling and not just warm)
- ½ cup walnuts
- 2 cups all-purpose flour (maida)
- ½ cup firmly packed brown sugar (I use the Demerara brand)
- 1 ½ tsp baking powder
- 1/4th tsp regular salt (yes, we need two separate measures. So we need it once above and then here too)
- ½ tsp cinnamon powder (if you have none at hand, then omit this. But, it does impart a heavenly fragrance)
- ½ cup unsalted butter, cold and straight out of the fridge. Cut it into small cubes.
- 1 large egg (at room temperature)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract/essence
- Take a small bowl and mix together the chopped dates, baking soda and the 2 pinches of salt. Pour the boiling water over this and mix it all together. Leave aside to cool for about 25 minutes to half hour. It needs to cool down completely before you can use it. Also, don’t hasten the process because the dates need to soak in the bicarb soda to soften.
- Preheat the oven to 180 deg C.
- In a baking tray spread the walnuts and toast them in the oven at 180 deg C for 8 minutes or till they are crisp and emit an aroma. Once done, let them cool and then chop them up coarsely.
- Grease a baking tin (bread loaf tin or any other baking dish) with butter/oil and coat with flour. The approx size for a loaf pan should be – 9 x 5 x 3 inch (23 x 13 x 8 cm). Keep this aside.
- In a food processor/with your hand, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, 1/4th tsp salt and cinnamon powder. Mix well. Add the cubed butter and mix it together by rubbing the butter in the flour. You will get a coarse grainy textured mixture, much like breadcrumbs. That’s fine. That is what we are looking for. Mix the walnuts in this.
- In a separate bowl, whisk the egg and vanilla extract together.
- Add the whisked egg mixture to the bowl with the flour and walnut mixture. Combine everything well and then tip in the bowl full of soaked dates (yes, water and all. Tip in the entire thing).
- Mix well but not vigorously. Just mix till it all comes together.
- Smooth the top with the help of a spoon or you can just leave it as such. I usually leave it as such as I like the crust to be a bit crunchy.
- Preheat the oven again to 180 deg C. Once heated, pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake at 180 deg C for about 1 hour and 10-15 minutes. It takes about that long in a microwave oven. But, in a regular oven it could take around 50-60 minutes so check once around the 50 minute mark.
- Perform the toothpick test to check if the cake is done. Let it sit in the tin for about 5 minutes after coming out of the oven.
- Slice it up and serve hot.
Note – This bread keeps for several days at room temperature. You can also freeze it for a few weeks. To use, just thaw it, heat it in the microwave and serve.