Did you do any special baking projects for the winter holidays? Our family usually bakes 5-6 different cookie recipes, dozens apiece to give as gifts. In the 1950-60s when I was a child, homemade & home-baked items were traditional holiday gifts for friends.
November to January happen to be the busiest months for our graphics & web design business. Couldn’t manage to carve out the hours to bake cookies on my own this year. Sorted through my favorite recipes for something quick & easy. In the process, came across cookie selections Bri & I had planned in prior years, ingredient portions & shopping lists all in her handwriting. Tender feelings flooded up as the recipe lists swam before my eyes. Bri really looked forward to baking Christmas cookies & holiday foods…
Recipes are infused with all sorts of memories. This dark, moist, flavorful, eggless fruit bread recipe ~ quick & easy to make ~ is adapted from my mother’s Christmas ‘Classic.’ It brings back many happy memories of Christmas-time in Pakistan: the whole family taking turns beating the homemade fudge: Chocolate with Walnuts, Vanilla & Penuche (a brown sugar caramel fudge); groups of carolers coming by – listening happily to familiar songs as their breath spiraled misty whorls in the chill night air. The tradition was to give them small gifts of pocket money & oranges as a thank-you.
A tasty autumn or winter treat, Date Nut Bread doesn’t need to be assigned solely to holiday baking projects. It has a satisfying mouth-feel as the loaf is dense with dates & walnuts or pistachios (the way I made it this year, after discovering I didn’t have any walnuts on hand).
*1 cup chopped Organic Medjool Dates (or other dates of your choice / suppose soft figs would work too)
*1 cups Organic Brown Sugar
*1 teaspoon Baking Soda
*1 Tablespoon Organic Butter
*1 cup Boiling Water
*1/4 cup Organic Buttermilk (replaces 1 whole Egg)
*1/4 tsp Salt
*1 teaspoon Organic Vanilla
*1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
*1 cup chopped Organic Walnuts or Pistachio halves
*1.5 cups Organic Unbleached Flour
NOTE #1: Dates are extra good gooey and sticky with a slightly crystallized skin, like Medjool’s are. The ones we bought were whole dates with their pits still in them.
The first step is to pit the dates by hand using a small paring knife. Slice them in half, pull out the pit, and then cut the dates into uniform pieces with kitchen shears.
Your fingers and knife will get REALLY sticky! I wash my fingers & the knife several times in warm water to clean off all the sticky goo making handling them much easier.
NOTE #2: I used “salted” pistachios since that’s all I happened to have on hand Can you tell I hadn’t planned for my Christmas Eve baking project very well?!! I didn’t use any other salt in the recipe and it turned out fine.
NOTE #3: This recipe has another odd step to it. How the baking soda is added. (See the photos)
1. PUT chopped dates in a small bowl.
2. SPRINKLE with baking soda, then pour boiling water over all.
3. SIFT the dry ingredients together.
4. COMBINE brown sugar, butter, buttermilk & vanilla in a large bowl.
5. ADD dry ingredients. Mix thoroughly.
6. ADD nuts, mix. Then add dates-soda mixture and stir together.
7. SPREAD batter in 1 buttered bread loaf pan or 2 small loaf pans. (You may have enough batter for a couple of cupcakes, too.)
8. BAKE in a preheated 350F oven 40 minutes.
9. SERVE warm with whipped cream or place on wire rack to cool completely. Room temperature slices are tasty with a thin smear of salted butter. Guess that counteracts the low-fat points!
YIELD: 1 regular bread loaf pan or 2 small loaf pans w/a cupcake or two. the Recipe doubles easily making 5 small loaf pans.
Date fans in your families and among your gift recipients will be pleased. Give it a try. Highly recommended!