This recipe for Date Loaf was given to me by my friend JP from a cookbook that I had given her for her birthday. I had come across The Mountain Cafe Cook Book because the Cafe, located in Aviemore had been forced to close due to the pandemic and the owner and author, Kirsten Gilmour, had reinvented the business as the Bothy Bakery in Granton on Spey and they had been crowdfunding for some equipment - hence the cookbook purchase. I found their talents and energies so inspiring and how the whole community had been enjoying their efforts that I have followed their journey ever since. JP and I agree that this is one of the best tea loaves we've had in a long time and that we have both come to realise that you can't just make one, you have to make two and put one in the freezer. The one difference in the recipe is that instead of Pure Sunflower spread/dairy free margarine, we have used our original cold-pressed rapeseed oil. It works a treat.
160g pitted dates, chopped
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
250ml boiling water
1 large egg
175g dark brown sugar
100g walnuts, chopped
2 tsp vanilla extract
225g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
2lb loaf tin with greaseproof liner
Before starting, just a note that the dates need to be soaked in the oil, water and soda, and this takes an hour.
Add the dates and bicarbonate of soda together in a bowl. I pop the bowl on the scales, tare to zero, then add 100g/ml of oil. Saves you getting a jug dirty. Add the 250ml of boiling water and stir and leave for an hour for the dates to rehydrate and they become soft and squidgy.
Preheat oven to 150 degrees (fan) or 170 degrees conventional oven
Pop your liner in your loaf tin - or grease and lightly flour your tin.
Add the egg, dark brown sugar, walnut pieces and vanilla extract to the date and oil mixture. Mix really well until everything is well combined. Sieve the flour and the baking powder into the date and oil mixture and fold in gently. Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for 55 mins or until a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool.
This is so good with butter you can sink your teeth into!