This sweet, moist bread tastes great with a cup of coffee or tea. With chopped dates and walnuts, lemon zest, and black tea as ingredients, it has a uniquely rich flavor. It’s the kind of sweet bread that makes me want to slow down, sit in a sunny spot, and and enjoy a few moments of peace. Dates are so old-fashioned, yet so in style again, as we are looking to get away from processed sweeteners and get back to more natural sweeteners. Plus, they are loaded with nutrients, such as potassium and iron. Walnuts have their own nutritional benefits too, so this bread is both rich in flavor and dense in nutrients.
Since it is St. Patrick’s Day, I thought it would be a fitting day to share this recipe, since I found it in one of my latest cookbook obsessions–“The Irish Kitchen: 150 Recipes for Everyday Cooking from the Emerald Isle”, published by Love Food. This type of bread is not solely Irish (it seems to have been popular in England and Scotland as well), but in any case, the recipe I share below is from an Irish cookbook. I love the part where the recipe calls for soaking the dates and lemon zest in tea, and then adding that mixture to the batter. The tea makes the bread such a pretty color, and gives a subtle flavor that helps balance the sweetness.
We are lucky to have such bright, breezy St. Patrick’s Day this year. I can remember some St. Patrick’s Day snowstorms, so I am happy to see the bright sunlight today! For some reason, this bread really touched me this week. My husband, daughter, and I loved it, (my son, not so much….) and for some reason it’s the kind of bread that made us slow down when we ate it. It’s meant for a snack or a tea/coffee break, and it is the kind of thing that encourages contemplation and conversation, as least for me. Maybe because it feels old-fashioned and has the essence of a slower-paced time. Maybe because it’s so richly flavored that we had to savor it slowly. Or maybe it’s just that it’s been sunny the past few days, and the novelty of being in the sun has lulled us into a state of contentment. In any case, this bread is sweet. It also tastes just as good the next day (if it lasts that long). I hope you all have a wonderful St. Patrick’s Day and a great weekend! Now it’s time to join the party at Fiesta Friday, co-hosted this week by Naina @ Spice in the City and Julianna @ Foodie On Board.
Date and Walnut Loaf
- 2/3 cup dates, pitted and chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
- zest of 1/2 lemon, finely grated
- 1/2 cup of hot tea
- 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus a little more for greasing the pan
- 1/3 cup of brown sugar, firmly packed
- 1 egg
- 1 cup of unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon of baking powder
- 1/4 cup of walnuts, chopped
- walnut halves to decorate
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly grease an 8 and 1/2 X 4 and 1/2 X 2 and 1/2-inch loaf pan, and then line it with parchment paper.
Place the chopped dates, baking soda, and lemon zest in a bowl, and pour in the hot tea. Let soak for 10 minutes, until softened.
In the meantime, cream the butter and sugar together until the mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in the egg.
In a small bowl, combine the flour and baking powder.
When the dates are done soaking, add that mixture to the butter mixture and stir well to combine. Add the flour mixture, and fold in, gently combining. Fold in the chopped walnuts and gently combine again.
Spoon the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Smooth the surface and place the walnut halves on top to decorate.
Bake in your 350 degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until risen, golden brown, and firm. Let the bread cool in the loaf pan for 10 minutes, then turn it onto a wire rack to cool completely. Slice it and enjoy!
This recipe is adapted from The Irish Kitchen: 150 Recipes for Everyday Cooking from the Emerald Isle