Recently I was in a discussion about good holiday breads and what varieties to make. I suggested Date Nut Bread, which I have always liked especially when it is cold and smeared with cream cheese. When I was asked for a recipe I realized that I have never actually made my own. Up until now someone else has always supplied it.
I knew that I had a few recipes in my collection as well as some dates in the pantry. After perusing the ingredient list and realizing that I had all of the necessary parts, I decided that it was the perfect thing to make while stuck inside on a drizzly day with a head cold. It was also nice and simple and so Little Man would be able to help. A perfect distraction to cheer up Little Man, who was disappointed that due to the head cold his cousins couldn't come over to play. Furthermore, this was the perfect recipe to use and then realize that my loaf pans are not 9 x 5 inches, but seem to instead be 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inches. Which is why I found myself suddenly needing to make a smaller round loaf as well.
Most Date Nut Breads that I have tried have been dense, and a perhaps a tiny bit dry (this may be why I like them with cream cheese). The dates are usually a bit on the chewy side as well. The bread that I was expecting to come out of my oven never appeared. This Date Nut Bread is moist, soft, and fluffy. Because the dates are soaked in hot water and baking soda beforehand, they practically melt in your mouth when you take a bite. No chewy, papery skins to contend with.
I can't say for certain whether or not this will be as good with cream cheese, as that was the one ingredient I seem to be out of. I can say that it does look promising. The cream cheese would add slightly tangy, salty notes that I feel would complement the nutty sweetness of the bread. I'm not sure that we will be able to find out with this batch how well the two might go together. This date nut bread is too good on its own to last long enough for me to get some cream cheese to try it with.
Date Nut BreadIngredients
1 cup boiling water
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups chopped dates (grease your knife if you don't want the dates to stick to it)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2/3 cup buttermilk
6 tablespoons unsalted butter (3/4 stick), melted and cooled
1 large egg
1 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped coarse
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 9 by 5-inch loaf pan.
2. Mix the boiling water, baking soda, and dates together in a medium bowl. Cover and set aside until the dates have softened and the water is lukewarm, about 30 minutes.
3. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, salt and nuts. In a separate bow, stir together the brown sugar, buttermilk, melted butter, and egg until combined. Add the date mixture to the wet ingredients, stirring until combined. Gently stir the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture with a spatula until just combined.
4. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface. Bake until dark brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with just a few crumbs attached, 45 to 55 minutes. Cool loaf in pan 10 minutes before removing to rack to finish cooling, about 1 hour.