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Thu 22nd Dec, 2016 will be...

Dates

22nd Dec each year

It’s worth laying on a spread to celebrate Date Nut Bread Day – but the question is whether to choose butter or cream cheese! Nobody seems to know for sure who decided that this delicious fruity bread should get its own day, despite evidence that the holiday has been celebrated for years. Published recipes for the bread “date” back to the 1920s, but fruited breads were also known in earlier centuries and many different parts of the world.

A date nut bread eating championship was held in New York in 2006, with the winner eating 29 sandwiches in just 8 minutes. However, a less nutty way to celebrate the date is by baking some bread and serving it up to friends or relations for breakfast or afternoon tea. Although the bread tastes slightly sweet, it goes well with a cheese filling for a different taste sensation.

Why not try it for yourself?

Date Nut Bread

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 sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 cup chopped pecans (or walnuts), plus 5-8 pecan halves reserved

Preheat 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 at least 20 minutes. Drain before use.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg; set aside.

In a large bowl of an electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), cream butter and sugars. Add egg, then vanilla. Gradually incorporate the flour mixture and blend until just combined. Stir in drained dates and nuts.

Transfer the batter into the prepared pan. Top with reserved nuts in a preferred pattern. Bake 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.

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