I have been meaning to try more recipes out of the cookbook Good to the Grain and last weekend was the perfect time to carve out some space in the day for baking and catching up with a good friend. I mean, who doesn’t want to catch up over the smell of delicious bread in the oven? That’s my kind of friend date. Scratch that. That is my kind of ANY date. I love cooking so much with Daniel that I will often opt out of going out to dinner so that we can cook together in the kitchen. I think it is so special to spend time together working, creating and sharing what you made. I had to improvise a little bit here because I didn’t have everything on hand for this recipe, but I still love how it turned out. I will write the original recipe and my substitutions below. This bread is arguably more appropriate for fall, but when you crave something, you crave it and you shouldn’t have to wait several months to enjoy it. Thus, I present you with this delightful Date Nut Bread from Good to the Grain.My friend and I MAY have stolen some of the roasted nuts before we could bring ourselves to put them in the batter. The nuts are so simple to make, but they were amazing and something I want to make just as a regular snack by itself. I was a little too anxious to cut into the bread. I highly recommend letting it cool down for awhile so that it doesn’t crumble. I found that it was perfect after hanging out in the fridge overnight, I cut a slice toasted it and smothered it with fig compote. Now put this recipe on your weekend to-do list!Date Nut Bread- slightly adapted from Good to the Grain
Butter for the pan
1 1/2 cups pecan halves (I used 3/4 pecan halves, 1/4 cup cashews, 1/2 cup almonds and chopped them after roasting)
2 tsp olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
8 large Medjool dates, halved and pitted
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole-grain pastry flour
1/2 cup teff flour (I couldn’t find it, so I substituted 1/4 all purpose and 1/4 whole wheat)
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons nutmeg, freshly grated (I used pre-ground nutmeg and would drop it down to 1.5 tsp)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 ounces (1 stick) cold unsalted butter
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup honey
1/2 cup plain yogurt (I used greek yogurt)
*I also added 1 tsp vanilla extract
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Toss the pecans (or mixed nuts) in the oil and salt and spread the nuts evenly on a baking sheet. Toast the pecans/nuts in the middle of the oven until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Set the pecans/nuts aside to cool, but keep the oven heated.
2. Meanwhile, bring 1/2 cup water to a boil and pour over dates. Let the dates soften while you prepare the remaining ingredients.
3. Rub a standard loaf pan lightly with butter.
4. Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl, pouring back into the bowl any bits of grains or other ingredients that may remain in the sifter and set aside.
5. Put the butter and sugar into the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Turn the mixer to medium speed and cream until light in color, about 3 minutes.
6. Meanwhile, using an immersion blender or a food processor, blend the dates with the soaking water until smooth. Scrape the date puree and whisk until thoroughly combined.
7. Pour half of the date mixture into the bowl of the mixer and mix on low speed until combined. Add half of the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Pour the remaining date mixture into the bowl, then the remaining flour, and mix on high speed for 1 minute. Remove the bowl from the mixer and scrape down the sides and the bottom of the bowl to incorporate all of the ingredients. Add the pecans/nuts and stir them throughout the batter.
8. Scrape the batter into the loaf pan and smooth out the top.
9. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 70 to 75 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. When it is ready, the bread will smell like it is on the brink of burning; it should be deeply brown and even darker along the edges; and a skewer inserted in the center should come out clean.
10. As soon as you remove the bread from the oven, flip it out of the pan; then flip it right side up and transfer it to a cooling rack. Let the loaf cool thoroughly before you slice into it. It can be kept, tightly wrapped, for 3 days.