Recipes, Photography, Musings

Date and Walnut Loaf

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.

DSC_0534-001Since 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.

date bread in handsWe 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.  walnuts dates lemonMaybe 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 bread with teapot 1crocus and rockdate bread in hand on porchdate bread in sun 2date bread loafdate bread on bench18

Date and Walnut Loaf

  • Servings: 1 loaf
  • Print


  • 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


  1. Ahila

    The date and walnut loaf looks moist and delicious. Thanks for sharing, Jenny, and happy FF#111! 🙂

    • Jenny

      Thank you very much, Ahila! Happy FF to you too!

  2. Melissa

    I love recipes like this! It sounds delicious!

    • Jenny

      Thank you so much!

  3. chefjulianna

    Your loaf looks super delicious! Soaking the raisins in tea is brilliant! Thanks so much for bringing this over to Fiesta Friday this week. And for the shot of the crocus – a sure sign that spring is here – Yeahhh! 😀

    • Jenny

      Thank you, Julianna–thanks for co-hosting this week!

  4. Hilda

    I am due to do a bit of baking today. I think this is it!

    • Jenny

      Thanks, Hilda–I hope you enjoy it!

  5. Amanda | What's Cooking

    Dates are old fashioned, yet you’re right! They’re having a moment right now. I love this cake and the idea of slowing down. My grandma and I have actually shared some beautiful and slow moments over a cake just like this. We’d spread some cream cheese on it and have coffee with it. I love your photographs of spring and the outdoors. Such a hopeful sight.

    • Jenny

      Thank you, Amanda! That’s a good way to put the date situation–they are definitely having a moment. 🙂 I’m glad to have rediscovered them though–I really like their versatility. Thanks about the nature photos–I am very excited for spring too. Hope you are having a good weekend!!

  6. carolinescookingblog

    This looks like a variation on what I know as Irish brack (that I’ve posted) which is a favorite. The fact this has dates in it I like it even more – pinned to try!

    • Jenny

      Thanks, Caroline–I look forward to checking out your variation! Happy Fiesta Friday! 🙂

  7. CakePants

    This looks so lovely! My mom has a coffee cake recipe that uses dates and walnuts, so I bet I’d love this bread as well. Beautiful photos!

    • Jenny

      Thank you! I really enjoy the moistness and sweetness the dates bring. Hope you have a great weekend! It’s cold out, but spring is in the air. 🙂

  8. Lily

    Oh, I love the addition of black tea in this bread. I’m definitely going to try this. Just wanted to clarify, do you drain the dates after soaking or add everything along with the tea into the batter?

    • Jenny

      Hi Lily, thanks! You don’t drain the dates after soaking–just add the whole mixture, including the tea, to the batter. I hope you enjoy it! 🙂

  9. Karen

    We have friends coming to stay with us next week and this sounds like a great item to have on hand for either breakfast or an afternoon snack.

    • Jenny

      Thank you Karen, and I hope you have a great time with your visiting friends!

  10. deliciouslynell

    Now there’s a delicious classic!

    • Jenny

      Thank you! It is a classic. It’s interesting how many of the classics are coming back to us. 🙂

  11. apsara

    Wow, that is a unique recipe for date loaf. Using black tea for soaking the dates is a great idea. Yum! And I love the picture of that little flower!

    • Jenny

      Thank you, Aspara. I appreciate it! It is so exciting to see the first flowers of spring here.

  12. Nancy

    Mmm looks great , Jenny! Love the touch of lemon… I bet it was a delicious contrast to the sweet dates!

    • Jenny

      Thanks Nancy, the lemon was a delicious contrast to the dates!

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