Saturday, April 25, 2009

Date Nut Bread (or muffins)

Thank you everyone for your birthday wishes! You all made a very special day even sweeter.

It's time for another recipe!

Occasionally, when I have a tiny bit of extra time, I like to make these muffins or bread. It takes just a bit of extra work, since the dates need to be chopped very finely (although you can cut this step if you can find them already chopped at the store), but it's so worth it. (Sarcy, I think of you every time I make it!) I made this recipe the other day for my birthday/spinning day, and realized that I've never shared it on this blog. I've lifted the recipe straight off of my (now defunct) podcast site, so here it is at last:


(Shown here as baked into mini-loaves, and next to a loaf of my Honey Whole Wheat Bread)

Chewy, moist, dark, dense, delicious. I'm not sure how else I can describe this bread, except to say that I've never tasted anything like it, and it's one of the best things I've ever put into my mouth.

My friend Sarcy's family used to bake up truckloads of this in coffee cans for Christmas, than give it out to everyone they knew, wrapped in foil, topped with a stick-on bow. Everyone looked forward to the "coffee-can bread", although some people couldn't figure out how to get the bread out (hint: use a can-opener to cut the bottom off and push the bread through), and would eat it with a spoon straight out of the can. It's that good. My favorite way to eat it is cold, with lots of cream cheese. Sarcy eats hers lightly toasted.

Combine and let stand while preparing other ingredients:
1-8 oz package dates, finely chopped (approx 32 whole dates or 1 cup finely chopped)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1-1/2 cups boiling water

Mix together:
2-1/4 cups flour
1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 cups sugar

Add the soaked dates and liquid to flour mixture, along with:
1 Tablespoon melted butter
1 beaten egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional, of course)

Pour into greased loaf pan (or coffee cans) and bake at 350 (F) for 1-1/4 hours, or until toothpick comes out clean.

I always bake these as muffins too (better for the little guys to hold onto, easier to serve), and it takes less time to bake. Keep an eye on them, but it should take between 25 and 30 minutes.

Very important: when making any kind of sweet bread, cake, or muffins, never fill more than 3/4 of the way full, at most. Othewise it's going to overflow and make a huge mess in your oven.

These get even more sticky, dark, moist and delicious with time, although I usually don't have that much self-control.

One regular and one mini-muffin

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