Date and Nut Bread

Yesterday hubby and I had a full Saturday of exploring, eating, and walking around town, so today, we couldn’t think of anything better to do than to do nothing. We started our lazy Sunday by sleeping in, watching the soccer match on TV and reading, and then I decided to do a little baking in the afternoon. Hubby has been feeling under the weather so it was on my mind to make something comforting and special for him, and I have been looking through my recipe books the past few weeks with the itch to make something sweet. Although sad for me to admit, I haven’t had much time for baking lately. Today seemed like the perfect day to change that.

One of my recipe books was given to me by my mom’s best friend from childhood. It is a compilation of recipes that she gifted me at my Bridal Shower as a sweet way to remember the recipes of my (and my mom’s!) youth. Each recipe is from a different woman in my childhood community church, including my grandmom, my mom, and my mom’s best friend and her mom. The book is full of pot-luck favorites and church picnic staples. As I flipped through, I realized that it would actually be quite easy to make many of these recipes vegan using a few substitutions. So I set out to vegan-ize the Date and Nut Bread recipe from Miss Marion.

The only ingredients I had to replace were the 1 egg and the 2 Tbsps of butter. For the butter, I just used my handy-dandy earth balance which never fails. For the egg, I mashed up one small-medium sized banana and used that instead. I’ve found that a banana replaces an egg one-to-one in most baking recipes. Other than that, I just followed the decades-old trusted recipe and said a prayer!

Firstly, I preheated the oven to 350 degrees, and I chopped up one cup of pitted dates and one cup of walnuts. Then I put the chopped dates in a bowl, sprinkled with 1 tsp baking soda, and poured 1 1/4 cup boiling water over the mixture. I let that sit to the side while I creamed together the 2 Tbsps Earth balance butter, 1 tsp vanilla, 1 mashed banana, and 1 cup of sugar. I don’t have a mixer so I just whipped those ingredients together using an old fashioned wooden spoon, and it worked just fine. It’s creamed when it all is incorporated and you can’t really detect the sugar granules anymore. Next I added 2 tsps of baking powder and 2 1/2 cups of flour to the wet ingredients and mixed until crumbly. It should be fairly dry. Then I added in the dates and hot water mixture and stirred, and lastly folded in the chopped walnuts. I poured the batter into a lightly greased loaf pan and baked for one hour. Couldn’t have been simpler.

1 cup dates, chopped
1 cup walnuts, chopped
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 cup boiling water
1 cup sugar
2 Tbsps Earth balance butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 mashed banana
2 1/2 cups flour
2 tsps baking powder
Dairy-free cream cheese to serve, optional

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