Delicious date loaf
This loaf is from my bestselling book, Homemade Happiness – and boy is it popular! Even people who don’t eat dates love it.
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Makes: 1 loaf
1½ cups chopped pitted dates
¾ cup water
Zest and juice of 1 orange
½ cup milk
150g butter, at room temperature, cubed
1½ cups brown sugar
1 free-range egg, at room temperature
1 free-range egg yolk
2 tsp vanilla essence or paste
2 cups plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp ground ginger
Preheat the oven to 160c regular bake. Grease and flour a loaf tin (about 23cm x 10cm) and line the base and sides with baking paper – have the paper sticking up past the sides a good few cm, as the loaf will rise a bit and might need to be supported so it doesn’t overflow.
Add the dates to a small saucepan with the water, orange zest and juice and simmer for 5-10 minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated. (Don’t forget it and let it burn, like I did once!) Stir in the milk, set aside and leave to cool to room temperature (put it in a bowl in the fridge or freezer if you need to speed things up).
Cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the egg and the egg yolk, one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides once or twice. Beat in the vanilla.
Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, mixed spice and ginger into a mixing bowl and whisk to combine.
Add the flour mixture and cooled date mixture to the creamed mixture and fold gently to combine evenly, until lump-free. Scrape the mixture into the tin and smooth out the top.
Bake for 1 hour 20 minutes, or until a skewer poked into the middle comes out clean (it may take a little longer, depending on your oven). Remove from the oven and cool for 10-15 minutes in the tin – then finish cooling on a wire rack.
This loaf is lovely served sliced with some butter. It keeps well in an airtight container for about 5 days, or freeze individual slices in ziplock bags.