I love recipes that move me out of my comfort zone. I don’t view a recipe with unfamiliar techniques or unusual ingredients as something to fear. Rather, I see it as a chance to expand my experience as a chef. When I first looked at the recipe for Date Walnut Bread, the fourth bread in the Modern Baker Challenge, I wasn’t disappointed, as it looked like another tasty recipe. But it also didn’t seem to offer anything unusual in the way of ingredients or techniques. That is, until I looked at the directions for preparing the pan.
This bread is baked in a Bundt pan. First, you butter the pan, which in itself is not at all unusual. The next step — which I have never heard of for prepping a pan for baking — is to dust the pan with bread crumbs. And, as if that weren’t enough, the pan is finally sprayed with vegetable cooking spray. OK, maybe I’m easily excited, but I thought this was kind of cool.
As with the other recipes in the Quick Bread section of The Modern Baker, once my mise en place was done, the batter came together really fast. As I was preparing the dates, which were placed in a bowl with butter and boiling water, I noticed that the dates I had purchased had sugar added. I compensated for this by cutting the sugar added to the recipe by 1/2 cup.
The directions call for mixing the batter by hand, first with a whisk, then by folding with a rubber spatula. Although I love my Kitchen Aid mixer, and in fact used it for almost all of the breads in the BBA Challenge, I have enjoyed mixing most of the Quick Breads by hand.
After beating the eggs, I whisked in the sugar and vanilla. Next, I folded in the dates, butter, and water. Finally, I stirred in the flour, baking soda, and salt, and added the walnuts. The batter was thick, gooey, and smelled delicious. It reminded me of caramel or butterscotch.
OK, it’s time for an admission. Some of you may find what is to follow rather disturbing and may wish to skip to the next paragraph. Those of you who choose to read it: you’ve been warned. I’m a batter eater. Yup, it doesn’t matter to me if it has raw eggs in it — I always taste cake and bread batters. I’ve always done it, and always will. I even let my kids do it. My older, more cautious daughter often declines if the batter has eggs in it. But my younger daughter, the risk taker of the clan, dives in with reckless abandon. The girls weren’t around when I made this bread, so I had to enjoy the batter by myself. And enjoy it I did. It was rich but not too sweet, with a chewy texture from the dates.
The bread is baked in a 325° F for about an hour and comes out looking like this:
And it smelled so good, there was no chance I was going to wait until it cooled to try it.
This bread did not disappoint. It was simple enough to throw together after work. And delicious enough to want to make again and again.