Friday, March 19, 2010

Date Nut Spice Bread

Last weekend I went to Long Island to visit with Birdy's Brothers and celebrate his Grammie's 94th birthday! For a birthday present I thought I would give her something she could use and enjoy so I  put together a little gift basket. I made a date nut spice bread which I got from the Barefoot Contessa on the Food Network. Ina always makes delicious treats so I wanted to give this one a try. The original recipe is here. This recipe I actually didn't change because baking is such a science and I haven't yet mastered the science behind it all.

2 cups coarsely chopped dates (10 ounces pitted)
1/3 cup orange liqueur (recommended: Cointreau or Triple Sec)
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 extra-large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon grated orange zest (2 oranges)
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (3 oranges)
3/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans (3 ounces)

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the bottom of an 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 by 2 1/2-inch loaf pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pan.
  • Combine the dates and orange liqueur in a small bowl and set aside for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally.
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and brown sugar together on medium speed for 1 minute. Scrape down the bowl. With the mixer on low, add the egg, vanilla, and orange zest. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt. With the mixer still on low, add the flour mixture alternately with the orange juice to the creamed mixture, beating only until combined. By hand, stir in the dates with their liquid, and the pecans.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and smooth the top. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.
I paired this bread with a jar of the blood orange marmalade I made since I thought it would bring out the flavor of the orange zest in the bread. It smelled amazing and look fantastic. I wrapped the bread tightly in plastic wrap and nestled that and the marmalade on top of silver tissue paper in a wooden basket I bought on sale for $2 at Creative Habitat in South Burlington. I wrapped the basket in clear celophane and tied it with a bow made out of wide satin ribbon in a Cranberry color. It turned out to be a nice presentation and I think Grammie enjoyed it. Mission Accomplished.

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