This is a bread loaf recipe that I use whenever I find myself with some dates. You can chop up your own, or score some candied nuggets as I’ve pictured. I can usually find these boxes of date nuggets at the grocery store around Christmas time, and I stock up. You can find dried dates year round, and this recipe is just as delicious with the food processor dicing up the fruit and adding a little extra sugar.
My family love this for pudding, breakfast, snack and elevensies; it’s not just a Christmas pud, even if it’s perfect for the holidays as well. I’ve often gifted a loaf of this bread to new mums or for parties, because it stays moist for ages if you store it in a ziplock bag before slicing to serve. My daughter calls this my figgy pudding, mostly because it’s always around for tree decorating and accompanied with warm drinks. It’s simply the easiest bread I’ve ever made, and it always garners rave reviews.
I like that this bread requires I put the kettle on. I call it my cuppa tea bread; it starts with making a cuppa, and is usually in the oven by the time I’ve finished it. Strictly speaking, it’s best to let the dates soak for up 45 minutes, until they’re nice and soft, but I usually get away with 20 minutes with the nuggets, and it leaves larger chunks of fruit. If I’ve diced whole, dried dates, I usually make sure I let the dates soak a little longer before I get started with the rest of the dough. That way I’ve softened the skins as much as possible before adding in to bake. Both methods are here, and both are easy, quick and delicious! Happy baking!
- ¾ cup diced dates
- 1 1/8 cup boiling water
- 1 ½ tsp baking soda
- 1 cup white granulated sugar (3/4 cup if using candied date nuggets)
- 1 ½ TB butter, softened
- 1 med egg
- ½ tsp salt
- ½+ tsp vanilla (up to 1 tsp, to taste)
- 2 ¼ cup plain white flour (not self-raising)
- 1 cup chocolate chips
- Optional 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Put the kettle on with enough for your cuppa and the cup of water to soak the dates. If you’re using the nuggets, you won’t need to prepare the dates first, but if you’re dicing yourself, have the bits ready for the boiling water. I usually have the food processor whizz up the dates if I’m starting with whole, but you can easily hand chop rough bits. Nuggets are usually candied with sugar, so I reduce the amount of sugar I add to the dough.
Preheat your oven to 300F/150C and grease a loaf pan, 9 x 5 inches is best.
Add the boiling water to the dates and baking soda in a heatproof container, and allow all three to fizz away for about 20-40 minutes. You want the dates to be soft and fluffy, and the water to cool before you add it to the dough.
While your dates soften, cream together the butter and white sugar before beating in the egg.
Check the temperature of the dates after they’ve soaked for 20 minutes, and add to the mixture once you’re happy the dates are soft. Add the salt and vanilla and stir together well with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon.
Add the flour in gradually in three or four batches, ensuring the batter is well mixed.
Add the chocolate chips, and walnuts if you like, and mix in with a few strokes. Try not to over stir and allow the flour to get too stretchy, it’ll make it a bit dense. The chocolate chips may melt a bit while you stir, so not over doing it at this stage will also help keep chips.
Pour the batter into your greased loaf tin and set it in the middle of the oven for one hour.
Once a toothpick slides out clean from the middle, it’s done. I almost never need more than the 1 hour exactly, but all ovens vary.
Allow to cool before removing from the tin and serve in slices. Enjoy!