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.

It was a toss up between a couple of different recipes for this one but I ended up choosing a recipe for date loaf from 'Ladies, a Plate' by Alexa Johnston (pg 120).  This is a lovely book made up entirely of traditional, well tested recipes from women around New Zealand.  A good description of this would would be that it is made up of recipes that will likely be familiar to you in one form or another & are the kind that get handed down through generations.

Anyway, back to the loaf!  The recipe didn't have walnuts in it so I added in cup of chopped walnuts as I wanted the loaf to have a bit of crunch to it. 

I suspect this loaf will be a good one to freeze as well.

So...the verdict?  It tastes goooooood! This recipe is a keeper.  I would recommend trying your first slice while the loaf is still warm.  The walnuts add texture & the delicate taste of the spices works really well with the dates.

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 soda
1 cup boiling water
1 egg
1 cup sugar
10 grams butter
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

What to do...
  1. Heat your oven to 180C.
  2. 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.
  3. Sift the flour, baking powder, salt, ginger & cinnamon into a bowl.  Add the walnuts if you are using them.  Mix together & set aside.
  4. 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. 
  5. Once the date mixture is cool, mix well with wooden spoon. 
  6. In a large bowl, beat the egg & sugar together with a whisk until it is pale & creamy.
    Next melt the butter & add in.  Then add the date mixture & mix everything together well.
  7. Finally, tip the dry ingredients in & mix until everything is combined.
  8. Pour the mixture into your tin & level off the top.
  9. Bake for 1 hour, rotating half way through. 
  10. 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.
  11. Remove the loaf from the oven & leave it to sit for a few minutes.  Then turn the loaf out onto a wire cooling rack.  Peel off the baking paper from the bottom & then turn the loaf up the right way.
  12. Once the loaf is completely cool, you can store it in an airtight container.
If you want to freeze the loaf, wrap it tightly in a couple of layers of clingfilm first. 


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