May 9, 2011

Whole-grain date walnut bread

An old fashioned recipe for date walnut bread caught my eye recently. It’s the kind of thing your great grandmother would have baked.  If she did, she probably baked it in Campbell’s Soup cans. Yep, that’s the way it used to be done. Why?  I haven’t the foggiest idea – but it made this bread even more intriguing to me. I also liked the fact that you soak the dates and then use the soaking liquid as part of the batter.

Of course, the traditional date walnut bread is made with white flour, butter and white sugar. Today I’ve given it the Cathy treatment:

- I substituted a heart-healthy oil for butter

- I used whole wheat pastry flour instead of refined white flour

- I cut the sugar in half, and used raw sugar which is less refined

- I added oats and flax for even more health benefits

These are the standard heart-healthy changes I make to recipes for baked goods, and it generally works well (although I’ve had my share of failures, believe me!)  Here, it worked brilliantly. The bread has a hearty personality thanks to the whole grains, yet it’s tender and moist. I can’t think of anything better to have with my morning or afternoon tea.

Oh, and if you’re the type to plan ahead, December 22 is National Date Nut Bread Day. Um, why? I guess it’s just another one of those date nut bread mysteries.

Whole Grain Date Walnut Bread

1 cup chopped dates
1 cup boiling water
1 egg
3 tablespoons organic canola oil
1/2 cup turbinado sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup oat flour (or old-fashioned oats, ground in a food processor)
2 tablespoons ground flax
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup chopped walnuts

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Combine the dates and boiling water in a small bowl and let stand for 15 minutes.

In a medium bowl, vigorously whisk together the egg, oil, sugar and vanilla.

Combine the flours, flax, baking powder, soda, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl. Stir in the dates with their liquid, along with the egg mixture and stir just to combine. Fold in the walnuts.

Pour into a lightly oiled 9 x 5-inch loaf pan and bake for 50-55 minutes, until a toothpick or knife inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let cool thoroughly before slicing.

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See more recipes: Baked goods and desserts

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