Dante-Nut Bread

Because I go to Calvary Episcopal Church where the summer and fall are spent cutting dates for the church’s “World Famous Fruitcake!” I was understandably averse to touching another date for today’s slated bread recipe: Date-nut bread. Plus, we don’t have any dates in the house and when I read the date pitting/boiling protocol, what a drag.

After yesterday’s super success with cranberry-pecan bread, I was eager to use more nuts in bread today, though. So, I’ve removed dates and added Dante to the recipe. Yes, Dante.

Dante because I am rereading the Divine Comedy this week for the third or fourth time as research for my book project (unrelated to bread project). How does one add Dante? Well, while mixing the batter I watched my favorite nut, Will Ferrell, impersonate the devil: “Mondays, God I hate Mondays, they make me-hee so steamed…”  (hilarious).

And while fiendishly laughing, I discovered a way to make the bread into a loaf that would “force kings to their knees and set the oceans to boil!”

Remove dates/water. Add cinnamon (2 tables spoons)—because I’m sure the Inferno is spicy. I also put the bread into a round cake mold, because Dante’s levels of hell and heaven are all set into perfect forms: circles.

Dante-Nut Bread 
adapted from Baking Illustrated

2 c fresh whole dates 
1 c boiling water
1 tsp baking soda
2 c wheat flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 c chopped pecans from Mr. Billy’s tree in Green County, NC
2/3 c buttermilk
3/4 c dark brown sugar
6 tbsp olive oil (or melted butter, but I used oil to be healthy)
1 egg

1. Forget about the dates, pitting, all that garbage. Save it for fruitcake if you go to Calvary Episcopal.
2. Whisk together the flour, salt and baking powder in another bowl. Stir in the nuts.
3. Stir the buttermilk and sugar together in a large bowl. Add the butter and egg and stir. Stir in the date mixture, then the dry ingredients, just until combined.
4. Scrape into a greased and floured 9-by-5 loaf pan.
5. Bake at 350 degrees until the loaf is dark brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 55 to 60 minutes. Cool in the pan 10 minutes, then depan onto a rack and cool.

And “Behold, a fiendish masterpiece from the bowels of hell!!!!!” –


—I would give it 4 stars, but I’ll collect more data this evening after bringing the round to the beer church ceremony in which KP and I are trophied Fantasy Football Champions 2012-13!

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