This Date Nut Bread is a dense, mildly sweet, deeply brown bread filled with walnuts and dates in the quick bread category which doesn't require yeast. It's interesting that this bread is a cousin to Boston Brown Bread. The major differences are the dates, nuts, and whole wheat flour in this one as opposed to raisins, no nuts and rye flour in the Boston version. Both use buttermilk and molasses for the sweetener.
As well as being quick to make, this bread holds for days at room temperature and also freezes for a couple of months.
Why this Date Nut Bread is so easy to make
- While it does require a few ingredients not necessarily found in all pantries, it is easy and quick to make either in the food processor, a mixer or with a whisk. If you're new to baking techniques in a food processor, Food Processor Tips for Baking will show you great ways of using this magic machine.
- As a quick bread it is just that. Leavened by baking soda, there are basially two steps to mixing the bread. It doesn't get much easier than that.
- Walnuts are the traditional nut in this bread as the Middle East and parts of Europe are replete with them. However, another nut can be substituted if desired - pecans coming to mind first. Walnut halve are best to use here as they don't get too small when processed. If using a mixer or mixing by hand, cut the nuts in large pieces first. Chopping Nuts a Quicker Way shows you a fast way to accomplish this. You may never chop them any other way again.
- Buttermilk is a great way to ensure a moist baked product. The Beauty of Baking with Buttermilk will make you a believer for sure.
Steamed or Baked, Round or Loaf
Traditionally this bread, as well as Boston Brown Bread, is steamed. Steaming can be done on top of the stove or in the oven. However, when testing this, I found there was little to no difference (and a lot safer) if it was simply baked, avoiding the mess of steaming with its racks and simmering water.
Often made in cans that have been washed from canned fruit or baked beans, this is just as good baked in a loaf pan as you see above. Baking them in cans is a great way to gift people. Wrap the rounds in plastic wrap and then a decorative paper for a gift anyone would enjoy.
The loaf version, is the perfect bread for making sandwiches. Ham and Cheese, cream cheese or pulled pork are excellent fillings. Serve with a side of baked beans and you have a quick, delicious lunch or dinner.
Ingredients read left to right.
FRONT ROW: Salt, dates, baking soda
SECOND ROW: Whole Wheat flour, Cornmeal, All-purpose flour
BACK ROW: Buttermilk, walnuts, molasses
Be sure to see the recipe card below for the full ingredients list and Instructions
Step by Step Instructions
Step 1. Place the flours, baking soda and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse several times to mix. Step 2. Add the molasses and buttermilk and process to mix. Step 3. Place the whole dates and walnut halves over the batter. Pulse several times to cut into large pieces. Do not over process or the dates and walnuts will be too small. Step 4. Everything is mixed.
Step 5. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Step 5. After about 10 to 15 minutes release the pan onto a cooling rack and cool upside down. Step 6. Make sure the four 15 to 16 ounce cans are dry. Step 8. Draw the bottom of a can on parchment paper. Cut out 4 circles. Spray the cans well including the bottom. Line each with a parchment round to ensure it will release easily.
Step 9. If using the cans, fill them ⅔ full. Step 10. Cover the cans with foil tightly. These cans are bound for the oven. Step 11. These cans are covered with foil and placed in a large pot with several inches of water to steam. Step 12. The Date Nut Bread on the left has been steamed while the one on the right has been baked. The steamed one is a bit darker but they are both the same as far as taste and texture. So it just comes down to your choice.
To mix in mixer.
Cut the dates and nuts in pieces. Mix according to the instructions above.
To mix by hand.
Cut the dates and nuts into pieces. Whisk the ingredients together in a large bowl following the instructions above.
Pitting the dates is really easy. Just cut it open and remove the pit. It will come right out without a problem.
Date contain a lot of sugar. In fact, there is date sugar which is usually found in natural food stores. It is usually less refined. Dates white white dots on them are safte to eat.They are simply crystalized sugar.
Dates can be kept in an air-tight container an stored at room temperature or refrigerated up to 6 months, and frozen for up to 1 year.
- Use whole dates and walnut halves and process with a few pulses. Do not over process or they will become too small for taste and texture.
- Get the batter into the containers as soon as it is mixed and into to oven or steamer.
- The cans shown are from 15 ounces cans of fruit. Wash them well (I run them through the dish washer) and make sure they are completely dry.
- The parchment paper round on the bottom of the cans or loaf pan will ensure the bread will pop out in tact.
- If steaming, be very careful when removing the cans from the steamer. If you have canning equipment, the tongs can be helpful here to lift the cans out. Cool them for 10 to 15 minutes and turn them out. Cool completely.
More delicious quick breads
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Date Nut Bread
- 9x5 loaf pan
- 4 - 15 ounce cans
- Large pot with lid of steaming
- 1 cup all-purpose flour (140 grams)
- 1 cup whole wheat flour (140 grams)
- 1 cup cornmeal (165 grams)
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups buttermilk (whole or low fat)
- ¾ cup dark molasses
- ½ cup dates, pitted (press into cup)
- ½ cup walnut halves
- If the dates are not pitted, slit them down the middle vertically and remove the seed.
- Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line the bottom of the cans or pan with parchment paper. Spray well and set aside.
- Combine the flours, cornmeal, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of a processor. Pulse several times to mix.
- Add the buttermilk and molasses, processing briefly to mix completely.
- Place the dates and walnut halve on top and pulse several times to cut. Do not over pulse as the pieces should stay fairly large for the best taste and texture.
- Re-spray the cans or pan if needed. Fill the cans ⅔ full or pour all of the batter in loaf pan.
- If baking, place the loaf pan on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 60 to 70 minutes until a tester comes out clean.
- If steaming, fill the cans, cover them tightly with foil and place them in a large pot. Pour several inches of water in and place a tight lid on the pot. Bring the water to a simmer and steam for about 60 to 70 minutes until a tester comes out clean.
- In either case, let the bread cool for 10 to 15 minutes and turn out to cool completely on a rack.