Friday, 9 November 2012

Date bread

If this looks familiar, it's because it is almost identical in every way to a Banana Bread For Dory (q.v.) but it uses dates instead of bananas.

I wanted to try this out because my friend Becky B brought over a sticky date cake the other day and it reminded me of the packet of dates in the larder I had been meaning to use to make a sticky toffee pudding, but have never quite found the excuse for.

It's also because I do LOVE that banana bread recipe but quite often don't find I have quite the right number of overripe bananas to justify it. So I wondered if it was possible with dates. And it is! It is still a sort of date bread, rather than a cake, because it's not especially sweet, which I think is a good thing. You could definitely spread this with butter, for example. Like all cakey/breads that are not a sponge, this keeps very well in tupperware for a few days.

Becky B did a terribly clever thing with HER date cake, which was to soak it, in the manner of a lemon drizzle cake, with a caramel sauce that she bought from Waitrose - it was Bonne Maman, she said: "Confiture de Caramel". She thinned it with some hot water, pricked the cake all over with a skewer and then went MAD with the sauce. It was really, really fab. My mother always says that things that other people have made for you are always more delicious than something you have made yourself, but still - Becky B is a terrific cook.

You can also make your own caramel sauce if you are that sort of person - there is a recipe somewhere on here, have a rummage.

So here we go

Date bread

150 veg oil
200g dark brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
250g dates
75g natural yoghurt
1 tsp bicarb of soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
225g wholemeal spelt flour (get it from Waitrose)
2 tbs caster sugar or cane sugar

1 Pre-heat your oven to 170C and butter a 2lb loaf tin and line it (YES you must do this, don't be lazy) and line a baking sheet, too.

1 In a bowl whisk together the oil, sugar, vanilla and eggs

2 Chop up the dates roughly then put them in a bowl and pour over boiling water to just cover them. Leave them to soak for 20 mins then drain them and sort of gently mash them through the sieve to get out most of the water.

3 Add the youghurt to the dates and mix together. Sprinkle over the bicarb of soda, baking powder, and salt and stir again.

4 Mix the date mixture and the sugar/egg mixture together. Then sprinkle over the flour and stir until things are only just combined. Over-mixing is disastrous here so stop as soon as you can't see any more flour. Spoon the batter into your smugly-lined tin.

5 Sprinkle some sugar - caster, cane or granulated -down the spine of the loaf and then put in the oven.

7 Bake for 45-50 mins.

HOW is Kitty, people say to me. How is she, how is she? I don't talk about her that much any more because she is just off my hands. She turns two in February but she has been off since she turned 18 months old and could walk, talk, ask for things, watch tv, sit and draw or look at her books, play imaginary games with her stuffed animals, scoot around the kitchen on her little trike and so on. She is an actual person these days and it's such a relief, I can't tell you.

When I look back on some of the darker things I wrote when she was small I feel awful, so guilty. But it must have been bad for me to write those things, it must have been like that. She's now this little chattering pixie, everyone wants a piece of her, everyone wants a smile and to hear her squeak "I'm knackered!" - her first party trick.

I used to dread her waking up in the night - the thought of it made me feel actually sick with anxiety. Now sometimes I wake in the night and hope that she might wake, too and need me. But she never does.

Here is a picture of Kitty with her bunny, her hair a bit wild from her nap. Note how she is gripping the bunny quite hard round the neck - I think she is trying to get him to tell her where the chocolate is. I can get pictures printed on t-shirts, mugs, bags and mousemats for a small fee if anyone is interested?

Though I can see the benefits of babies, I suppose. They are not constantly after your iPad and whatever it is that you are eating. And they don't have a massive fucking tantrum when you try to stop them from doing incredibly dangerous things.



  1. Do the dates not go all sticky toffee pudding-y?

    1. No, I think the toffee sauce is essential for that transformation

  2. I hate bananas but love dates, so thank you. Beautiful photo of Kitty too.

  3. Christ I love your blog more and more. And you were in The Times yesterday and WIMH today!! :) So making this, it will win brownie points with my fiance. And the cinnamon buns. Might need to do some extra long runs next week...

  4. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, that is one beautiful baby!

  5. That is one gorgeous little girl. Well done! And having a sibling ( or two) will be the best gift the two of you ever give her. Think the trenches of motherhood are very tough and not always widely talked about;) And the cake sounds good too.

  6. She is terribly cute. And I can imagine much more interesting now.

  7. My mother used to make a date loaf when I was a child that I just loved. I will give this one a go.
    Don't worry too much about the dark days. Nearly everyone has them and poor Kitty did have some scary illnesses. I had twins (they're 20 tomorrow) and sometimes I was just amazed we were all alive at the end of the day, or the night.

  8. I love date cake just as much as banana and your friend made a great discovery with that caramel sauce.
    It's great that you can enjoy Kitty more nowadays. There is no escaping those little babies being very hard work but second time round is never quite as bad, apart from tea time I found!

  9. Very interesting recipe, very tasty. I recommend it.

  10. Elizabeth Medovnik11 November 2012 at 23:47

    Oh, what a lovely photo - she's gorgeous! But motherhood is HARD, so please don't feel guilty. My daughter is virtually the same age as Kitty and it was reassuring to hear that it's not all sweetness and roses for everyone. xx

  11. I love the bit you wrote about Kitty- so, so sweet. She's such a beautiful girl! I know the feeling of desperately (SO desperately) wanting your baby to be independent and at the same time wanting to hold them close forever. Thanks for always writing so honestly about motherhood. It can be so disheartening to always read about people for whom every facet of motherhood is easy and just comes naturally to them. It's always been obvious that you love Kitty.

    Anyhow, I loved your banana bread for dory, and I love date cake, so this will be on the list for this week. Brilliant idea.

    Veronica x

  12. How lovely to see Kitty again, she is growing up, bless her.

  13. Don't hate me... I used white flour. It was all I had and I urgently needed cake, for my friends you understand. It took an extra ten mins to cook but rose really well. Thanks for the inspiration - delighted the posts are coming thick and fast now that you are feeling less sick.

  14. I'm with Veronica on this one...i love how honest you were/are about motherhood. well i say honest about motherhood, i mean your experiences of motherhood. Because being an anxiety riddled freak, i share a lot of your feelings about it! And ALSO feel sick with guilt about it. and like you am stupidly thinking of doing it all again next year. But anyway the combination of hysterical/awful tales of motherhood and yummy, fattening recipes makes this blog my number one. Fanks!!! ♥