Dates are a naturally sweet fruit coming from the Date Palm Tree which were introduced into California and Mexico by the Spaniards in 1765. Dates are prevalent in Southern California due to our gorgeous desert climate where they are grown. We eat dates in many recipes, especially chopped and baked into breads, cookies and cakes. Also, if you haven’t had a Date Shake from Hadley’s – you don’t know what you are missing. A must — on the way to Palm Springs.
Dates have a creamy sweet flavor, but vary in texture depending upon the variety. Medjool Dates are probably the most popular here, but Honey Dates are another favorite of mine. It really doesn’t matter which dates you choose for your Date Nut Bread, they will all turn into a deliciously sweet loaf.
I use coconut palm sugar in this recipe because the earthy flavor pairs nicely with the nuts and fruits. The added bonus is that coconut palm sugar is lower on the glycemic index and doesn’t give such a spike in blood sugar as regular granulated sugar. Whole wheat white flour is another ingredient that makes this recipe healthier because you can get a dose of whole grains while enjoying a slice. Don’t skip the Orange Maple Butter either, it adds a creamy citrus spread to each bite.
1 stick butter + 4 tablespoons for butter mixuture, room temperature
2/3 cup coconut palm sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup + 2 tablespoons for butter mixture
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2/3 cup whole wheat white flour
2/3 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup sour cream or Greek yogurt
1/2 cup walnuts
2/3 cup dates, any variety
zest from 1 orange
(makes 1 loaf)
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9 X 5 inch bread pan.
2. In a stand mixer, cream together 1 stick butter, 1/4 cup maple syrup and coconut palm sugar, about 3 minutes.
3. Add eggs one at a time. It’s okay if the mixture looks curdled at this point. Then, add the vanilla extract.
4. Add the flours, salt, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon and mix on low until just beginning to come together, 30 seconds.
5. Dollop in the sour cream and a splash of milk and continue to mix for 30 seconds or just until blended together.
6. Rough chop the dates and walnuts and add them to the batter. Mix on low for 30 seconds until incorporated.
7. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and place it in the oven to bake for 40-50 minutes or until golden brown and toothpick comes out clean.
8. Remove the bread from the oven and let cool for 30 minutes in the pan.
9. Make the butter while the bread is cooling. Place the last 4 tablespoons of butter, 2 tablespoons of maple syrup and orange zest in a stand mixer and beat until smooth, about 1 minute. Spoon into dish to serve with bread.
10. Remove the bread from pan by loosening with a butter knife around the perimeter. Place the bread on a serving board with butter and cut into 1 inch thick slices. Enjoy!