I have a love affair with dates. My favorites, of course, are the ones I get in the Middle East, but there are some really good dates to be had that are grown in California. I tasted some fantastic dates at the farmers market when I was in Sonoma County this summer.
Now there is no need to do anything with these wonderful dates except eat them, I would never use them to cook anything with. But, the ones I can get at my local grocery store are good, but not nearly as good; so they are fair game for cooking.
So, in what feels like an homage to my Californian friends and relatives, I added some California red walnuts to the California dates.
This is probably my favorite bread I have made so far. Even my daughter who does not like dates loved it.
Sticky Date Nut Bread
From Food Network Magazine
1 1/2 cups chopped dates (Californian)
1 1/4 cups hot apple cider
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts (Californian)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick butter
3/4 cup light brown sugar
2 eggs (locally raised)
2 tablespoons molasses
1 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat the oven to 350F and line a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on two sides; coat well with cooking spray.
Soak dates in hot apple cider for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, whisk flour, walnuts, baking powder, nutmeg and salt.
Brown butter in a saucepan over medium heat, 5 minutes; let cool. Then whisk with brown sugar, eggs, molasses and vanilla.
Add the dates to the wet ingredients.
Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.
Pour batter into the prepared pan.
Bake 65 to 75 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Let cool 1 hour, then remove the loaf from the pan and transfer to a rack to cool completely.