Tuesday, June 21, 2011

TWD: Date Nut Loaf

Why yes, don't mind if I do.

Dates are one of those foods that I was convinced I hated, probably because of their visual association with prunes--oh, I'm sorry, dried plums. Yeah, good luck with that rebranding, prune industry.

Anyhow, I was certain that they were sticky and gooey and gross and I didn't like them. And when I first had dates, I didn't. They were probably a little past their prime, and they were sort of dry and sickly-sweet without a lot of flavor. Life's too short for bad dates, ifyaknowwhatImean.

But then a marvelous thing happened. I moved to Los Angeles--yep, still hung up on this city--and started shopping at a supermarket with a large Armenian food section. And what that means, in addition to a mind-boggling selection of feta cheese and yogurt, is that I was exposed to first-class dates for the first time. These are soft, juicy, hunka hunka burnin' love dates, bursting with flavor and absolutely delicious.

I finally understood that "nature's candy" wasn't just a lie made up by my mom to get me to stop mainlining sugar. Nature's candy exists, and it goes by the name of dates.

For the most part, I don't do much with my dates. (Sooo many possible ways to go with that sentence. Let's stick to the culinary, shall we?) I tend to eat them plain, as a pre-running snack. If I'm feeling frisky I'll split them and fill them with nut butter for some added flavor and calories. But I haven't baked with them much, until now.

This Date-Nut Loaf was really more like a poundcake than any sort of bread, quick or otherwise. It had a really tight, cakey crumb and a lovely flavor from the vanilla and almond extracts. When they baked, the date pieces almost melted and became little pockets of sweetness scattered throughout the cake, broken up by the crunch of toasted walnuts.

My favorite way to eat this cake was to cut a thick slice and toast it, then spread it with sweet butter. I imagine this would also be amazing with some fresh ricotta on top, or a little bit of creme fraiche and honey. I can also see this making a killer trifle--the texture is just right for layering with whipped cream, mousse or curd. Full recipe plus pics can be found on Mary's blog.


  1. i love all your photos, especially the one of the dates at the top! This was not, however, my favorite nut loaf. Yours looks fabulous.

  2. I can hardly believe it but I didn't know I liked dates until recently, but now I can't get enough!

  3. Anonymous7:55 PM

    This was sooo good. And we don't care for dates.

    Love your pics.