This is a recipe for people who enjoy a good challenge in the kitchen, and who like serving their guests something that leaves them scratching their heads and asking, “What flavors are in this? How did you make it?” Although it has a long list of ingredients, it really is not that difficult to prepare (once you have everything ready). You will see that the recipe has a lot of spices but all are in small quantities, almost like you might see when following a recipe for Indian Curry. I guess all that measuring of ingredients will not be appealing to some people but for those who are looking for something different, this is what you will find here. However the preparation time, and the long list may put some folks off even trying. The result is, however, really worth the effort!
I looked at other date bread recipes on the net, even remembered one from my childhood called 3 Minute Date Cake. Date breads are usually very heavy and moist, or dry, and without much flavor! It was difficult to find any recipe that seemed to offer anything in between those two extremes. None of what I saw or remembered matched the concept I had in mind. What I wanted was bread that had an interesting taste, and a new taste sensation with every bite.....and low in fat!
This bread combines the sweetness of the dates with the tartness of tamarind, and those two flavors balanced with dried apricots. The main spices are cardamom and dried orange peel. This combination is what I would consider complimentary to both the date and tamarind flavors. I did not use the cardamom seeds like in other recipes as I wanted a more subtle flavor. I have used the other spices as background notes that work together with the two main spices. These spices are also said to aid digestion. The bread is very filling, especially when thickly spread with sweet cream butter or accompanied by a slice of Manchego Cheese.
1 cup chopped dates
6 dried apricots, chopped into small cubes
1 1/4 cup boiling water
1 tbsp tamarind paste
Juice and zest of one lime
1 rounded teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons coconut oil (this is usually solid at room temperature so it is easily measured)
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
¼ cup finely chopped walnuts, almost ground to a meal
1 tbsp molasses
1 egg, beaten
1 1/2 cups plain baking flour
1/2 cup flax meal
½ cup whole wheat flour
1 rounded teaspoon baking powder
½ tsp salt
1/4 tsp Chinese 5 spice powder
1/8 tsp ground coriander
1/8 tsp black pepper
1 tbsp green cardamom pods2 pieces of dried orange peel
1. Grease and line the bottom of a loaf pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
2. Soak dried orange peel for about 4 hours or until soft. Scrape away white pith, and discard. Chop the peel finely and put in a small bowl.
3. Smash the cardamom pods with the back of a cleaver or mortar. Place the seeds and husks in bowl with orange peel.
4. Measure the flours, flax meal, spices, and chopped walnut and put in a large mixing bowl.
5. Mix the chopped dates, apricots, coconut oil, tamarind paste and molasses in a medium sized bowl.
6. Boil the 1 ¼ cups water and pour over the smashed cardamom pods and orange peel. Let that steep like you would when making tea for 3-5 minutes. Pour through a strainer and discard the pods and peel.
7. Bring the “tea” again to a boil and pour over dates, apricots, coconut oil, tamarind paste and molasses. Stir until coconut oil is melted. Set aside for one hour. Add zest and lime juice when the mixture has cooled to room temperature.
8. Beat sugar, and egg with a hand mixer until it becomes a bit pale in color. Add cooled date mixture to this.
9. Mix together wet and dry ingredients. Stir until just combined, making sure to incorporate any flour that sticks to the bottom of the bowl.
10. Pour mixture into a greased 9” loaf tin and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until inserted skewer/cake tester comes out clean.
11. Leave in tin for about 10 minutes before turning out onto cooling rack. Wait until it has completely cooled before slicing.