Monday, 14 January 2013

Date and Walnut loaf (with added chocolatiness)

Confession time - I’ve changed a Mary Berry recipe! I hear sharp intakes of breath up and down the land as I type this, but, I’m baking it so what the hell. Like many (I suspect) amateur foodies I have a collection of cookbooks. Sometimes I will actually follow the recipe, but, more often than not I will go fiddling with it in some way. In other words I use them for ideas and inspiration.

This bake started off as the Date and Chocolate Loaf in the Mary Berry Baking Bible (ISBN 978-1-846-07785-2) but I decided to substitute Brazil nuts for Walnuts (well date and walnut is a classic combination) as well as adding some extra demerara sugar to the mix for a bit more toffee richness.

Anyway - how to make it. Stone and chop the dates and then place them in a bowl with the boiling water and leave them to soak. While they are soaking break up the chocolate and melt this gently in a ban marie along with the butter.

Next break up the walnuts - easiest way I’ve found to do this is to put them in some strong foil and just give them a quick bashing with a rolling pin. Keep a small amount back to sprinkle on top of the cake.

Now (once your chocolate has all melted) it’s time to bring stuff together. In a bowl mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder and bicarb. Beat the egg into the milk and then stir this into the dry ingredients well. Continue mixing while adding the nuts, dates (and the water they soaked in) and chocolate/butter mix.

Once well mixed pour it into a lined 2lb loaf tin and then sprinkle the top with the left over nuts and plenty of demerara sugar. Place in a pre-heated oven at 180C for about an hour and 10 minutes in my oven. Once a skewer comes out clean remove from oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes before turning out onto a rack.

150 grams stoned dates
150 mls boiling water
150 gram plain chocolate (use a good one 70% + cocoa solids)
40 grams butter
150 grams walnuts
225 grams plain flour
40 grams caster sugar
10 grams demerara sugar (plus extra for sprinkling)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 large egg
150 mls milk

My only other comment (word of caution?) is that with all the demerera sprinkled over it the top gets quite a crunchy glaze. Tastes lovely when eaten but makes it quite hard to slice as the top breaks up a bit under the knife. Doesn't necessarily look so pretty when sliced. However, it was unanimously declared delicious and 10 hungry walkers can't all be wrong can they?

Finally, I'm going to enter this for Alphabakes. Hosted this month by Caroline of Caroline Makes... (as well as Ros The more than occasional baker) the letter is D. D for Dates.


  1. I'm sure Mary Berry will forgive you for changing her recipe when it looks this nice! Thanks for entering it in Alphabakes.