Last week, I talked about how I’m trying to eat dates every day to help potentially help with childbirth. Well, as soon as I heard that dates were good for pregnancy women, I immediately thought about one of my favorite childhood snacks: date nut bread with cream cheese and strawberries. When I was a kid, my mother used to have tea parties with me for my afternoon snack. It not only instilled in me a deep love of tea, but also helped me learn how to behave at the table in polite society. One of our favorite tea-time treats were little sandwiches of thinly sliced date nut bread, smeared with cream cheese and topped with thin slices of strawberry.
We got our date nut bread from the grocery store, where it was sold in dense, dark brown, round loaves in the bakery section. I haven’t seen it in years, though, and I knew I would want to make it from scratch anyway, so I could know how many dates were in each slice. So I went looking for a recipe and tinkered around until I came up with the recipe below. Now, the recipe I based this on calls for coffee and explains that the acidity of the coffee is important for the leavening, so I used decaf coffee. Personally, I feel like I do in fact taste the coffee, though I don’t dislike it. This recipe yields the same firm, dense, dark loaf that I remember as a child. If you let it cool completely, it will easily slice into very thin slices and hold up under the application of cream cheese. Strawberries are massively out of season right now, but I will definitely have to make this again in the summer. I divide this loaf into 8 portions, which can be further divided into two thin slices and each of which has about 1 oz. or 28g of dates in it.
Old-Fashioned Date Nut Bread
(based on this recipe)
8 oz. pitted dates, finely chopped
1/2 cup of sucanat
1/2 stick of softened unsalted butter
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 cup of hot brewed coffee
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 cup of einkorn all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sprouted spelt flour
1 cup chopped walnuts
- Preheat the oven to 350F and grease a 8.5″x4.5″ loaf pan and line it with parchment.
- Combine the first six ingredients and stir until the butter is melted. Set aside to cool for 15 minutes (this will also soften your dates).
- Add the egg and the vanilla to the mixture and mix well. Add in the flours and baking powder and stir to combine. Fold in the walnuts.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45-60 minutes. Tent with foil after 30 minutes to prevent over-browning. Test for doneness by taking the internal temperature, which should be about 200F. Let cool for at least 10 minutes in the pan, and then remove and cool completely on a rack before slicing. Keeps for about a week at room temperature in an air-tight container, or freeze for longer storage. I get about 8 servings out of this.
Dates are sticky and do not chop in the food processor. I tried for too long, but ultimately had to chop them by hand. This will take longer than it takes for the oven to preheat (longer still if you don’t get pitted dates).
The original recipe calls for 2/3-3/4 cup of brown sugar. I used sucanat, which is an unrefined sugar with a pronounced molasses flavor, and I cut the sugar back to 1/2 cup. I still find the finished bread quite sweet, so I think this should be plenty of sugar for most people, but if you really like sweets, maybe try it with 2/3 cup brown sugar.
I used einkorn and sprouted spelt flours to keep it healthier, but feel free to use all-purpose flour for the whole thing, or mix all-purpose flour and whole wheat flour.
I chopped my walnuts a bit more finely (I used the food processor for this since I’d already gotten it out to fruitlessly chop dates, pun intended) because I don’t like large chunks of walnut in my breads, and it makes it easier to slice a bit more thinly.