Granddad’s Date Loaf


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

The Mountain Cafe Cookbook

The Mountain Cafe Cookbook

By Kirsten Gilmour

Published 2017

  • About

This recipe is a family treasure. My granddad was an amazing baker but, in the seventies and eighties, men in New Zealand that baked were viewed as a bit odd (to be polite). I think Granddad felt that he would be named and shamed if he was ever found out, so he had a rule: if anyone asked, Nana baked it. And so his home baking was kept secret and he threatened that if anyone found out he would never bake again. We never let on to anyone… It’s odd, looking back, to think about Granddad baking while Nana tended to the farm and animals, but that’s the way they were, different in all the best ways.

  • Try serving this warm with a little caramel sauce as a pudding.
  • This will keep for five days in an airtight container at room temperature. It also freezes really well, wrapped up in clingfilm.


  • 160 g pitted dates, chopped
  • 100 g dairy free margarine (we use Pure sunflower spread)
  • 2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
  • 250 ml boiling water
  • 1 large egg
  • 175 g dark brown sugar
  • 100 g walnut pieces
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 225 g plain flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder

  • 23 x 13cm loaf tin


Place the dates, margarine, bicarbonate of soda and boiling water in a large metal bowl. Set aside for an hour to let the dates soften.

Preheat your oven to 170°C (150°C fan). Grease and lightly flour your loaf tin. Add the egg, dark brown sugar, walnut pieces and vanilla extract to the softened date mix. Beat really well until the egg and sugar are fully incorporated. Sieve the flour and baking powder into the bowl of wet ingredients and gently but thoroughly fold through. Pour the batter into your greased tin and bake for 55 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool in the loaf tin on a rack.

Serve with lashings of butter.