This date nut bread is delicious.  Reader Heidi requested a date nut bread a while back, and I must say that it took a few tries to find a blogworthy one.  I made a sticky chewy gross one, a cake-y not enough date-y one, then some date nut cookies because I was frustrated…and then finally came upon this very good one from Baking Illustrated.  Yay.  So happy with the success!  Toasted with cream cheese – yes cream cheese, is the way to go.  The cool cream cheese, the wet juicy sweet dates, the warm bread – all make for a melody in your mouth.  I promise.  I’m not even a date nut lover – but this spoke to me!  I forced my housekeeper Sylvia to sit and eat it with the cream cheese and she later told me that she was very reluctant to eat it that way — but was so relieved when it was truly terrific.  Funny.  This bread is not too sweet but the dates themselves are – and a super contrast to the toasted nuts.  The bread looks good too – great for brunch or a hearty snack in the afternoon.  David our computer helper loved this and came back for seconds (we now barter sweets for service).  Suzanne, Lauri and Laura all split a mini loaf at the spring fair and were licking their fingers.  Success too with Jodi who loves these more old-fashioned sweets.  Mike too – the kids and I, we all thoroughly enjoyed even though we normally don’t eat this.  I’m eager to bake this bread for my sis in law Linda who will really be the true tester as this is her thing.  Oh, and Heidi too!  Fingers crossed – I’ll keep you posted.  Enjoy –

date-nut bread (very slightly adapted from Baking Illustrated, The Practical Kitchen Companion For The Home Baker):

1 cup boiling water
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/4 cups pitted whole dates, chopped coarse
1 cup walnuts (toasted), chopped coarse
2/3 cup buttermilk, pull to room temp
3/4 cup packed (5 1/4 oz) dark brown sugar
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 large egg, room temp
2 cups (10 oz) all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking powder

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9×5 loaf pan, and cut and place parchment on the bottom, grease and then lightly dust with flour.  I used my 9×5 pan but didn’t end up filling it to the very top.  Instead I made another mini loaf as I find that I have a more even bake – when I don’t overfill.  You can also place the extra batter in a muffin pan and a make a few mini muffins on the side.  Or, opt to stuff it all in – just know that your baking time may be a bit longer than mine.

Stir together the boiling water, chopped dates and baking soda.  Cover and set aside for about 25 minutes until the water is lukewarm.

Toast the nuts.  Cool.  Chop, set aside.

In a medium bowl, stir together the buttermilk and sugar.  Add the melted (and cooled) butter, and egg and stir until well combined.

Add in the date mixture and stir until combined.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder and reserved nuts.  Then stir the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture and mix until just combined and moistened.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pans and smooth the top.

Bake until the loaf is dark brown -and a toothpick comes out just clean.  My not full loaf pan took 42-46 minutes.  My little tiny one took 30.  If you fill the loaf pan to the very brim – the cookbook says it should take about 55- 60 minutes.

Rotate the pan during cooking.

When done, cool in pan for about 10 minutes.  Then invert onto wire rack to cool.  This bread stores well wrapped in plastic or in an airtight container.  And again, sliced, toasted w/cream cheese is heaven.  Please try!


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