Vacations are supposed to refresh us so that we return to our daily chores with renewed vigor but they seem to have had the opposite effect on me. The lavish meals on the cruise and the wonderful dinner parties in Houston have spoilt me and made me too lazy to whip up any culinary delights in my own kitchen. It took me almost an entire week just to unpack my bags and get the house in order, leave alone trying out any recipes.
Finally, yesterday I managed to come with this Date Walnut Bread. However, it was not a result of my usual enthusiasm to try out something new in the kitchen but rather a necessity to utilize a big box of dates which had been drying in the refrigerator for quite some time.
All the recipes that I looked up seemed to ask for brown sugar, demerara sugar or other such ingredients which I did not have at hand and I was definitely not in a mood to run out to the store in this snowy weather. I finally found a simple recipe at the Bard Valley site which uses just basic ingredients . Also, this recipe uses just one tablespoon of butter unlike some quickbread recipes which have copious amounts of butter/oil in them, making them seem more like cakes rather than breads.
1 cup Dates, pitted and chopped – about 10 large dates (I used Medjool which are my favorite variety of dates)
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup boiling water
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp softened butter
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup walnuts
1) Preheat oven to 325F (160C). Lightly grease a 9 x 5-inch (2L) loaf pan or line with parchment paper.
2) Place dates in a large bowl, sprinkle with baking soda and cover with water. Set aside to cool to room temperature (about 30 minutes).
3) In a frying pan lightly toast the walnuts till they change color and become fragrant. Chop and keep aside.
4) Sift together the flour,sugar and salt or stir well to combine.
5) Add the butter, egg and vanilla . Beat briefly on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened.
6) Add the dates and water mixture and stir gently to combine. Do not overmix the batter.
7) Fold in the chopped walnuts.
8) Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake at 325 degrees for about an hour until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Place on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Remove the bread from the pan and keep on the rack to cool completely.