Pecan and Date Loaf

February is a bleak month no doubt about it. There’s not much going on outdoors (unless one skis, which one doesn’t) and it. is. cold. Baking is one of those things whose idea itself is warm and cozy. And what better to bake than a loaf cake that will go excellently with those endless cuppas that make winter worthwhile.

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My family loves its nuts. (I live with 3 male members..what can I say.) We always have peanuts, cashews, almonds and pecans in our house although I very rarely cook with them. A nut loaf brimming with nutty goodness, low in fat, enhanced with caramely date chewiness seemed like just the ticket for a baking morning. This loaf is not too sweet (I always cut down on sugar in professional recipes), although it can do with even less. I made a few other modifications — used pecans instead of the more common walnuts, added unsweetened applesauce for part of the liquid (OJ in this case) and pureed the dates. Result: a perfectly light loaf that’s just as good toasted and buttered or as is.

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You’ll need:

30g unsalted butter
115g icing sugar
35g brown sugar
1 medium egg
100ml freshly squeezed orange juice
2tbsp unsweetened applesauce
125g pitted dates
80ml boiling water
1tsp vanilla
225g AP flour
1/2 tsp each baking soda and baking powder
50g walnuts or pecans

  • Soak the dates in boiling water while you prep other steps.
  • Preheat oven to 180C or 350F and lightly grease or parchment line a loaf pan.
  • Cream butter, sugar and egg until smooth. Then add vanilla, OJ and applesauce. Mix to combine well.
  • Blend the softened dates (with the water) into a puree (coarse or smooth as per your preference. Mine had tiny date pieces left and that was fine). Add date mixture to the wet ingredient mix.
  • Mix flour, baking soda and baking powder in a bowl, then slowly add to the wet mix.
  • Pour into lined tin and bake for about 40 mins or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. (If you have to rush out to, say, pick up the kids, ahem,  before the toothpick comes out quite clean, leave the slightly underdone loaf inside the turned-off oven until you get back. It’ll be fine, I promise.)

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Enjoy its yummy scrumptiousness with a guilt-free slice at tea time knowing that you did all you could towards healthy dessert eating. If you’re lucky, your kids might even deign to consider this a legit after-school snack — win win.

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