Date and Coffee Loaf

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Debbie only makes breads that are really special, believing that one should buy a baker’s bread and not try to make it for oneself! She is also an artist, so the aesthetics of the loaf are very important to her. This is a particularly beautiful, dark and rustic-looking sweet bread that wouldn’t be easy to find at your local bakery. It smells and tastes amazing, and it is hard not to consume the whole loaf in one sitting — especially if it’s warm and covered in melted butter.

Ingredients

  • 250g/9oz pitted dates, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda 250ml/8fl oz strong Arabica coffee
  • 2 tablespoons softened butter
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 free-range egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 150g/5oz plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 150g/5oz pecan nuts, chopped

Method

Preheat your oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4. Grease a 20 × 10cm/8 × 4 inch loaf tin and line the bottom with baking parchment.

Put the chopped dates into a bowl and sprinkle with the bicarbonate of soda. Bring the coffee to the boil in a small pan and pour over the dates, then set the bowl aside.

In another bowl, vigorously mix the butter, sugar and egg until well blended – either by hand or with a hand-held electric whisk. Using a metal spoon, blend in the vanilla extract. Add the flour and salt and gently blend, then finally fold in the chopped pecan nuts and the date and coffee mixture. Pour into the prepared loaf tin.

Place in the centre of the oven and bake for approximately 1 hour, or until the top of the loaf springs back when lightly pressed. When the cake is ready, let it stand for a few minutes before removing from the tin, peeling off the baking parchment and leaving to cool on a wire rack.

Try serving a slice with a weak Yemeni coffee, sweetened with a little sugar and preserved ginger.

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