Welcome November! The weather here around Boston is starting to cool down, dusk arrives noticeably sooner and so it’s time for cozy, spice breads.
This one is jam-packed with marinated dates, almonds, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and lots of orange, making it wonderfully fragrant and perfectly seasonal.
Recipe (adapted from Ina Garten)
Date Nut Spice Bread
Yield 1 loaf
2 cups coarsely chopped dates, pitted
1/3 cup Cointreau or Triple Sec
4T unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup brown sugar
1t vanilla extract
1T grated orange zest
2cups all-purpose flour
2t baking powder
1/2t baking soda
1t ground cinnamon
1t ground nutmeg, freshly grated if possible
1/4t ground cloves
1t kosher salt
3/4cup freshly squeezed orange juice
3/4cup coarsely chopped pecans or almonds
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Butter bottom of 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 1/2 inch loaf pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper, then spray or butter and flour the pan.
2. Pit dates if they are not yet, chop and combine with orange liqueur in a small bowl and set aside for 20-30minutes. Stir occasionally.
3. In a large bowl with wooden spoon (or in electric mixing bowl), combine butter and brown sugar for one minute. Scrape down the bowl. Add the egg, vanilla, and zest, stir carefully but do not over mix. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt. Stirring carefully (or with mixer on low), add the flour mixture alternately with the orange juice to the butter & sugar mixture, mixing only until combined. By hand, stir in the dates with their liquid, and the nuts.
4. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and smooth the top. Bake for 50-60 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn onto a wire rack and cool completely.
Storage: Wrap or cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to a week.