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.
Deborah Mele 2017
- 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)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- 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.
- Whisk in the oil, egg, bananas, and vanilla extract into the date water mixture.
- In another bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, walnuts, and brown sugar.
- Fold the date mixture into the flour mixture, until the dry mixture is no longer visible.
- 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.
- Cool for 10 minutes, then remove from the tin and cool completely before slicing.
- This loaf holds up well wrapped in aluminum foil for 3 or 4 days.