Moist Date Nut Loaf


I am not one for desserts, and unlike most folks living in Italy, I’d prefer that my first meal of the day wasn’t some type of pastry. Every once in a while however, I crave some variety of baked treat that I grew up with. I was born and raised Canadian, and there was always a package of butter tarts, a date nut loaf, or some muffins in our kitchen growing up. I wouldn’t even consider baking butter tarts unless I have a big group over because I have a slight butter tart addiction, and I’d be afraid that I’d eat them all if they were in my house. Although I do like muffins, when I crave a muffin it is usually a moist bran muffin chock full of raisins. A slice of date nut loaf slathered in butter was often my favorite after school snack as a child, and recently I had the urge to bake a loaf of date nut bread like the ones I enjoyed growing up. I started looking for a good recipe, wanting a not too sweet, moist quick bread, full of dates and nuts, but I wanted a healthier loaf than the ones my Mom used to bake using all white flour and butter. I came across a recipe in the cookbook A New Way To Bake from the kitchens of Martha Stewart that I decided to give a try. The recipe used only a couple of teaspoons of oil, brown sugar, and a combination of whole wheat and white flour. I baked two loaves just before my family arrived for their yearly vacation in Italy, thinking that my grandkids would enjoy a slice or two as a snack.

The loaves baked up great had a lovely dark brown color, but I just found them drier than real date nut bread should be. Even my grandkids weren’t thrilled with the loaves, and I had to slather slices of the bread in butter for them to eat them. Feeling frustrated, once my family left for home, I decided to tweak the recipe to get the texture I wanted. I used a little more oil, coconut palm sugar, and a combination of white and whole grain farro (spelt) flours. I also added in one, and a half smashed bananas into the batter, some ground cinnamon and I ended up with the date nut loaf of my dreams. The new loaves baked up great and were as moist as I had hoped they would be, and not too sweet. Best of all, by adding the whole grain flour into the batter and using olive oil, a heart healthy oil, I do not feel bad taking a slice as a snack from time to time. This bread would be delicious enjoyed for a leisurely weekend breakfast, or even served for a holiday brunch served with a slathering of honey sweetened cream cheese. I doubled the recipe because I like to always bake an extra loaf to freeze for the future, but this recipe does make one loaf.

Buon Appetito!
Deborah Mele 2017

Moist Date Nut Loaf

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 Cup Lightly Flavored Olive Oil
  • 1 1/2 Cups Hot Water
  • 1 Cup Chopped Pitted Dates
  • 1 Large Egg
  • 1 1/2 Mashed Bananas
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Cup White Farro Flour
  • 1 Cup Whole Grain Farro Flour
  • 1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Cup Chopped Walnuts
  • 3/4 Cup Coconut Palm Sugar (Or Dark Brown Sugar)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a bowl, mix together the hot water and chopped dates, then let sit for 15 minutes to cool and for the dates to soften.
  3. Whisk in the oil, egg, bananas, and vanilla extract into the date water mixture.
  4. In another bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, walnuts, and brown sugar.
  5. Fold the date mixture into the flour mixture, until the dry mixture is no longer visible.
  6. Pour the batter into a lightly greased and floured 8 x 4 inch loaf pan, then bake for about 55 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.
  7. Cool for 10 minutes, then remove from the tin and cool completely before slicing.
  8. This loaf holds up well wrapped in aluminum foil for 3 or 4 days.

Adapted From Martha Stewart’s A New Way To Bake