Dates. Love ’em or hate ’em? I’m sure if you lean more toward the hate side, this Date Walnut Loaf will change your mind!
Truth be told, I’ve always loved dates. My mom used to make date squares when I was young, but that was the limit of my exposure to dates. During my college years, I took a job at a financial company and was assigned to work on an in-house software transition team. One of the transition team members was Larissa; a very sweet lady. She was from Lebanon and she would regularly bring whole, pitted dates to work as a snack.
She would offer them to us and I would always politely decline. I thought they were the ugliest things on the face of the planet, and after all, dates came from a cellophane package and when opened, resembled a mushy, black substance that turned into a sort of jam when cooked and sandwiched between two layers of crumb. Right?
Not so! Larissa brought these golden brown, honey-glazed, large pitted dates. One day, I finally gave in and tried one. They were sweet, moist, and chewy; they almost melted in the mouth. I wouldn’t say that I loved them, but they were really good!
Now, dates are not something that I regularly eat, but from time to time, I will buy a pound or two at the bulk store. I never snack on them like Larissa did, but I will incorporate them into my recipes. Like this Date Walnut Loaf, for instance, or my Anytime Protein Bars.
This loaf was super delicious. The dates offered a sweet, chewy consistency and added to the moistness of the cake, while the walnuts offered that slight crunch and nutty taste. When purchasing dates, try to find Medjool dates. I’ve read that these dates are sometimes called the Cadillac of dates because of their semisoft, sweet, moist, and meaty texture.
Lastly, I left the loaf plain – no decoration or added frosting at all – because with a loaf like this one, I prefer to enjoy it with a smear of good butter and a cup of hot tea. To me, that’s the perfect afternoon snack or late morning breakfast.
PS: Isn’t that Pioneer Woman loaf pan delightful? And, check out those measuring spoons from her fall collection! #love #pioneerwoman #pioneerwomancollection
- 1 cup tea, strong and hot
- 2 cups chopped dates
- ⅓ cup butter, room temperature
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ cup brown sugar, firmly packed
- 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 2 large eggs, whisked
- 1 cup chopped walnuts
- Chop the dates into bite sized pieces, about the size of a dime. Place the chopped dates into a large mixing bowl.
- Pour the hot tea over the dates. Add the butter, salt, baking soda, and brown sugar. Stir to combine and set aside to cool.
- While the date mixture is cooling, preheat your oven to 350 degrees and prepare a loaf pan by spraying it lightly with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.
- Once the dates have cooled, add the vanilla extract and stir to combine.
- Add the flour, baking powder, nutmeg, and beaten eggs to the date mixture.
- Using a spatula, fold the dry ingredients into the date mixture.
- Next, fold in the chopped walnuts.
- Transfer the batter to the loaf pan. (You can top the filled loaf pan with extra walnuts or chopped dates if you wish.)
- Bake for 1 hour. Test for doneness by inserting a toothpick into the loaf. If it comes out clean, the loaf is ready. If not, bake for another 5 minutes.
- Allow the loaf to cool for 5-10 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to continue the cooling process.