D is for Date & Walnut Loaf
I'm quite partial to dates - my Mum & Nana's date scones have always been a favourite of mine. It's surprising because I'm generally not a huge fan of dried fruit in cakes & scones. To me, dates are quite toffee-ish in flavour & have a slightly chewy consistency which is why I like them so much.
TIP: If your oven is on fan bake, consider reducing the heat to 160C half way through (rotate the loaf at this stage as well). I did this because the loaf started to smell quite hot & with another 30mins to go, I didn't want the top to burn. The loaf took exactly an hour to cook in my oven. Having said all this, it goes without saying that every oven is different so it pays to keep an eye on it & reduce the heat slightly if necessary.
1 cup dates
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
What to do...
- Heat your oven to 180C.
- Prepare your loaf tin which needs to be at least 22x11cm. Spray a little cooking spray on the bottom of the tin to help the baking paper stick, then line the bottom with a rectangular strip of baking paper. Press it down & ensure any overlapping corners are folded in neatly. Then spray the whole tin well with cooking spray.
- Sift the flour, baking powder, salt, ginger & cinnamon into a bowl. Add the walnuts if you are using them. Mix together & set aside.
- Chop the dates & put them in a heatproof bowl. Mix the boiling water & baking soda together & then pour over the dates. Mix well & then leave to cool slightly for around 20-30 mins.
- Pour the mixture into your tin & level off the top.
- Bake for 1 hour, rotating half way through.
- Test that the loaf is cooked by pressing the centre of the loaf with your fingers. If it springs back, its cooked. If you are unsure, insert a skewer or thin knife into the centre. If it comes out clean, its cooked (you might notice slight residue from the dates but you'll be able to tell that this isn't uncooked loaf mixture). If the loaf needs a little more time, just put it back in the oven for 5 or so minutes at a time until its cooked through.
- Once the loaf is completely cool, you can store it in an airtight container.