Dates have been around for many centuries. But they have come back to the spotlight recently to makes us aware of their healthy nutritious values. I have been using dates to go with my afternoon tea. Also, I sometimes use it in my smoothies, salads, and various desserts on a regular basis. In this “Datey” journey, I learned that some recipes become a favorite in my household, and they make a come back again and again. The date loaf is one of those recipes. The loaf has a soft spongy texture and keeps well for about a week if stored in an air-tight container. My husband loves them with his morning coffee and my young picky eater is gradually warming up to them.
Prep time: 1 hr. + 3 hr. rest
Bake time: 30 min.
Serves: 1 loaf & 12 mini rolls
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 package Active Dry Yeast
1/3 cup lukewarm water
1 stick butter, melted
1 cup warm milk
1 cup sugar
1 cup pitted dates
1 teaspoon grounded cardamom
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon brewed saffron
Favorite seeds and nuts such as sesame seeds, almond slices, sunflower seeds
1- In a large mixing bowl, dissolve active dry yeast and 1 tablespoon of sugar in 1/3 cup of warm water. Let it sit in a warm place for 15 minutes until it expands.
2- Beat together 1 egg, melted butter, milk, and the remaining sugar. Then add to the expanded yeast and mix well.
3- Sift flour, cinnamon and salt 3 times to introduce air into it. Then gradually add the flour to the liquid mixture until a light pliable dough is formed. Knead the dough in the bowl for couple of minutes. The final dough will be sticky a little bit. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rest for 3 hours.
4- For the filling, warm the pitted dates in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add some water and mash them until it forms into a spreadable paste. Add grounded cardamom and mix well. I decided to take the filling a step higher by adding roughly chopped walnuts to the paste. However, it is optional.
5- Preheat the oven to 350.
6- Punch down the dough. For more aroma, add ½ teaspoon grounded cardamom (optional). Knead for few minutes. Pick a small amount of dough (slightly larger than golf ball) and fill with the date filling. Close the dough around the filling. Continue with the rest of the dough and arrange on the cake pan.
Filling an 8×8 round cake pan, I made the rest of the dough into single mini rolls.
7- Beat 1 egg yolk with brewed saffron and gently brush over the dough. Top with favorite seeds and nuts such as sesame seeds, almond slices, etc. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. To prevent the bread from dryness, it is best to place a water pan in the oven throughout the baking time.
The pull-apart loaf is absolutely aromatic, soft and offers just the right amount of sweetness to go with your morning coffee or serve as an afternoon snack. The mini rolls are also great as a yummy healthy dessert in kid’s lunchboxes. Noosh-e jān!