Every once in a while I have a hankering for something earthy, earnest and comforting like this loaf. Rich, dense and moist (apart from possibly the end slice...Nick!!!) it is the perfect late Sunday morning treat to enjoy with a cup of coffee, but also packs well for lunchboxes and keeps well 'in the tin' for up to 4 days. I made this one yesterday and have already enjoyed it for afternoon tea, breakfast, and I'll be packing the rest of it up to take with us to Waiheke island this afternoon...can't wait to sit on the deck with a pot of tea and my book and a wee nibble of loaf over the next few days! (PS - you can also lightly grill (broil) it and smear with a whisper of butter....) Having a bit of a play around with my photography at the moment, I am neurotically always looking to do better, so I know these are super-simple, but I really hope you like them!
2 cups dates, pitted and halved
2 cups boiling water
1 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup golden syrup
2 tsp baking soda
2 cups plain flour
1 cup bran
1/2 cup sultanas
1 cup walnuts, very roughly chopped (optional)
Preheat the oven to 170˚C (335˚F) and line the base and sides of a 27x15cm loaf tin (or 2 smaller tins, or a 20cm square tin). Put dates in a big pot. Cover with boiling water and add butter, sugar and golden syrup. Bring to the boil, stirring to combine. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat, add baking soda (love that foamy bit) and leave to cool for 10 minutes. Put flour, bran, sultanas and walnuts into a big bowl. Add egg to melted mixture, whisk in, then pour into flour and mix well. Spoon into prepared tin and smooth top. Bake 40-45 minutes or until cooked through when tested with a skewer. Leave to cool in tin for 15 minutes before turning out to cool.