Grandma W.’s Date Nut Bread

Here is the other recipe as promised, this time from my fraternal grandma. This bread definitely doesn’t have to be made only around the holidays, but it is one of those breads that you can make, wrap, and give as gifts. This recipe makes two loaves of bread, so you can have one for yourself and give the other as a gift. You could also separate it and make it into four mini loaves, or, like my grandma used to do, bake in washed out tin cans, which make really cute gifts.

As with the fudge, this bread also brings back a lot of memories. I have consumed a lot of this bread over my lifetime, mostly in Florida with my grandparents, and other times with my family in Michigan. My Uncle Doug in particular likes to make it around the holidays, freeze it, and ship it to his siblings (my Dad). It’s particularly good at breakfast warmed up with a big pat of butter on it.

To make the bread, you first need to prepare the dates. Every year I have an issue finding them, and it tends to either be at CVS, Rite Aid, or Whole Foods. You’d probably have more luck in a non-city grocery store, though. My grandma uses the dates that are already rolled in sugar. If you can’t find them, then you just add some more sugar and roll them yourself. For this recipe I only had an 8 ounce bag of large dates, so I chopped them up small and added about 1/4 cup of sugar and tossed them with my hands.

DSC02880Put the dates in a medium bowl and pour two cups of boiling water over the dates along with two teaspoons of baking soda. Mix together and allow to cool and mash. This step is important. One year I didn’t mash them and, while the bread still tasted good, the dates turned a little gummy inside and stuck to your teeth a bit. So please mash your dates.

In a large bowl beat together 2 tablespoons of butter and 2-3 cups of sugar. The original recipe calls for 2 cups of sugar, and that’s they way I like it, but it doesn’t produce a very sweet bread. My husband prefers it sweeter (close to banana bread sweet), so I usually split the difference and add 2.5 cups of sugar. Go for 3 (remember, this goes between two loaf pans) if you want it sweeter.

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Next add two eggs and beat. Then mix in the cooled dates with all of their liquid and two tablespoons of vanilla extract. Finally mix in 4 cups of flour and 1 cup of chopped walnuts. I put in closer to 1.5 cups in this recipe since I like more nuts throughout the bread.

Divide between two loaf pans that have been sprayed with nonstick spray/butter and/or floured. Whatever works for your pans. Bake at 350 degrees for at least 1 hour. It may take a little longer, depending on your pan and oven. Just make sure a toothpick comes out with just a few crumbs on it if you’re testing it.

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Note: The bread gets pretty dark, and that’s fine! It’s supposed to be that way, so don’t panic. It gets a lot darker than most nut breads. If you do get worried, though, you can cover with foil. After it’s out of the oven, run a knife around the edges and let cool. Slice and serve!

Now, the only way to eat this is a three step process: 1. Cut a large slice (about 3/4 inch to 1 inch thick). 2. Warm up in the microwave for about 20-30 seconds. 3. Cut 1/4 inch thick slabs of cold butter and place onto warm bread. Let melt slightly and enjoy.

And now it’s time for…Cat Fact. Did you know that the Snow Leopard, a variety of the California Spangled Cat, always has blue eyes? Fascinating. FACT! My baby has beautiful green eyes that get super spastic at times. I once gave him cat nip and I thought he was going to have a heart attack. I have never seen pupils get that large, and never gave him catnip again.

And now for the recipe:

GRANDMA W.’S DATE NUT BREAD

Note about the recipe: This makes two regular size loaves. You can cut in half, or pour into four mini loaf pans, or even double. For the dates, if you can’t find dates pre-rolled in sugar and cut up, chop up the dates into small pieces and add about 1/4 cup of sugar and toss with your fingers.

Ingredients

1 package chopped dates (about 7.5 oz, rolled in sugar)
2 cups boiling water
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tbl butter
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 tbl vanilla
4 cups flour
1 cup chopped nuts (walnuts)

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Pour boiling water over dates and add baking soda. Allow to cool and mash dates.
3. Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and beat. Add dates and liquid, vanilla, flour and nuts. Half hill two loaf pans that have been greased and floured.
4. Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour, or until toothpick comes out clean.

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