So I was watching Food Network the other day and I've come to the realization that Ina is absolutely awesome. It seems that others in the food blog world tend to agree. I mean who would not be drawn to her delicious food, her charming personality, and her culinary experience.
And who could argue against her idea that using great vanilla extract and good quality ingredients with a good recipe gives a great product.
To prove that point, I decided to make one of her recipes on Date nut loaf bread.
And the end result was one of pure perfection. This is one of the best recipes that Ina has ever made and I look forward to making it over and over and over and over .... (someone stop me this instant).
So try it out and let me know how it is. Mine was moist and the flavor of the dates worked beautifully with the nuts and the orange. I cut down on the sugar by half from the recipe I got from Smitten Kitchen, but I feel I can go down even more - the dates do give off enough sweetness.
Recipe: Date nut Loaf bread
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen who adapted it from Ina Garten
Yield: 1 loaf
2 cups chopped dates
1/3 cup fresh squeezed orange juice for soaking the dates (can use orange liqueur but I didn't have it)
4 tbsp unsalted butter
1/3 cup of light brown sugar (this is what I changed)
1 large egg
1 tsp really good vanilla extract
1 tbsp grated orange zest
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup of freshly squeezed orange juice (and I mean freshly squeezed!)
1 cup of coarsely chopped pecans ( I just love these and so added more)
1. Preheat oven to 350 F and grease a 9 by 5 by 2 inch loaf pan.
2. Soak dates in 1/3 cup of the orange juice for 30 minutes. Got to do a quality control check here (not really but who cares - it's dates soaked in orange juice, so taste one) - proclaim that it's delicious and move on.
3. Mix the butter and brown sugar until smooth and then add the egg, vanilla, zest and mix to combine.
4. Sift dry ingredients - flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, salt into a new bowl.
5. Alternate dry ingredients and orange juice into the batter and mix until just combined.
6. Fold in the chopped dates and the nuts and then pour into the greased pan.
7. Put it in the oven for 50 minutes - although check it at the 35-40 min mark with a toothpick, since mine essentially got done at this point.
8. Cool the loaf bread completely. In the meantime, enjoy the smells of orange zest and spices permeating through your home.
9. Eat and enjoy.
Although Ina recommends her orange cream cheese spread, truthfully, I just prefer the date nut loaf by itself. I tend to appreciate baked goods more without having excessive additions to it. But if you really want orange cream cheese spread to impress people or to indulge, it's basically a ton of orange zest mixed with room temperature cream cheese.
Here's what mine looked like. Behold, in all of its glory:
Here's a representation of how it looked the next day:
Not much left. Sigh - I'm sad....
.... at least until the next one.