It’s worth laying out a full spread of deliciousness to celebrate National Date Nut Bread Day – but the question is whether to choose butter or cream cheese. This day comes with all sorts of delicious options that can be based on personal preference. But the most important thing on this day is that Date Nut Bread is celebrated and enjoyed!
History of National Date Nut Bread Day
Dates are a fruit that has been around for quite some time. In fact, they seem to have been first cultivated in Egypt, sometime around 4000 BC or so. The English word used for this fruit is derived from the Greek word dáchtylo, which means “finger”, presumably due to their shape.
Published recipes for date bread seem to date back to the 1930s, but fruited breads were also known in earlier centuries and in many different parts of the world. This first recorded recipe for date bread originated in Britain in 1939 and quickly became a favorite to be made in the winter, particularly around holidays such as Christmas or the New Year.
Nobody seems to know for sure who decided that this delightfully fruity bread should get its own day, despite evidence that the day has been celebrated for years. And the fact that this day comes right in the middle of winter (at least for the northern hemisphere) means that everyone can enjoy a slice of this bread warm from the oven, paired with a hot beverage.
How to Celebrate National Date Nut Bread Day
Celebrating National Date Nut Bread Day might take a bit of planning ahead to be sure there’s enough of this delicious treat around so that everyone can enjoy it. Try out these ideas for honoring this day:
Join a Date Nut Bread Eating Contest
A date nut bread eating championship was held in New York City in 2006, with the winner eating 29 sandwiches (made with cream cheese) in just 8 minutes. Sponsored by Chock Full o’Nuts coffee company, this competition was won by Pat Bertolett, with second place going to John Chestnut who is one of America’s most well-known gurgitattors.
Learn Nutrition Facts About Dates
One of the lesser used fruits in American kitchens, dates are actually a very healthy fruit, providing quite a bit of nutrition along with a bit of sweetness and lots of moisture. In celebration of National Date Nut Bread Day, find out what kind of nutritional benefits dates can bring to the family:
- Dates are high in polyphenols, which is a very important antioxidant that helps to protect the human body from oxidative damage that can cause problems such as inflammation.
- Chock full of fiber, dates act as a healthful aid to the digestive system as well as keeping the stomach feeling full for longer. Other nutrients found in dates include B-6 and iron.
- Another nutrient dates have high amounts of is potassium. This is a mineral that promotes good heart health, regulates the balance of fluids in the body, and promotes good nerve signals.
- Dates are high in natural sugars, which means they can add some satisfying sweetness to baked goods (such as Date Nut Bread!) without worrying about all of those empty calories.
Make Some Date Nut Bread at Home
Perhaps a less nutty way to celebrate the date is by baking some tasty loaves of bread and serving them up to friends or family members for breakfast or afternoon tea. Since it’s a quick bread, it doesn’t use yeast but instead comes out as a dense bread that is actually more like cake. Although the bread tastes slightly sweet, it goes well with a cheese filling for a different taste sensation. Those who prefer the portability factor might want to divide their bread batter into smaller portions and make individual loaves or muffins.
Why not try out this Date Nut Bread recipe to see how it goes?
Date Nut Bread Recipe
- 1 ½ cups pitted dates, coarsely chopped
- ¾ cup boiling/ very hot water
- 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- ½ tsp. salt
- ¾ tsp. freshly ground nutmeg (or cinnamon)
- ¼ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- ½ cup light brown sugar
- ¼ cup granulated white sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup chopped pecans (or walnuts), plus 5-8 pecan halves reserved
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease (or spray with a non-stick vegetable spray) a 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf pan.
Place dates in a medium-sized bowl, or large liquid measuring cup, boiling water. Let stand for at least 20 minutes until soft and then drain before use.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg; set aside.
In the large bowl of an electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), cream butter and both sugars. Add egg, then vanilla. Gradually incorporate the flour mixture and blend until just combined. Stir in drained dates and chopped nuts.
Transfer the batter into the prepared pan. Top with reserved nuts in a preferred pattern. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until an inserted toothpick in the center comes out almost clean.
Place on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes, then remove the bread from the pan and cool completely. Makes one 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf.