The other day, my friend Jonathan tweeted, “One more post about pumpkin spice lattes, and I will get a job at Starbucks just so I can spit in every pumpkin spice latte I make.” Despite being a PSL (surely it needs its own acronym) fan, this quite literally made me LOL. As soon as Starbucks started offering them, every other Facebook and Twitter post was about them.
And then, seemingly, as soon as the temps dipped below 80, every blog was posting something containing pumpkin.
If you are already over pumpkin (please don’t be, it’s only September), you may want to avert your eyes. But, if you want a tasty, healthy quickbread that also includes other autumnal favorites like apples and dates, then stay a bit.
Originally, I intended on making a date nut bread to use up some dried dates that had been sitting in my cabinet for too long. However, none of the date bread recipes looked good to me, for one reason or another. Most of the time, they were just really unhealthy and didn’t lend themselves especially well to substitutions. I am a person who uses all the full fat, calorie-laden ingredients when making desserts, but I’m not one who does that for breakfast. I just can’t justify it, and neither can my metabolism, which is slower than molasses. You will rarely see me make a muffin or quickbread that has a ton of butter, sugar, oil, etc. in it, and this one is no different.
Quickbreads/muffins are the one baking thing I feel very comfortable with, in terms of making up my own recipes. I’ve been doing this for several years now, and it’s really all about ratios. I used a few of my old muffin recipes as springboards and came up with the loaf below. I decided to add the pumpkin not only because it’s Fall, but because it keeps baked goods incredibly moist, and you can cut down on the amount of butter and/or oil quite a bit (sort of like substituting applesauce). The loaf is also studded with apples and walnuts, which I really enjoy in quickbreads. I loved the way this bread turned out, and I hope you’ll try it!
Pumpkin Bread with Dates, Apples, and Walnuts
Makes 1 loaf
8 oz. dried dates, chopped
2/3 cup very hot or boiling water
1.25 cups whole wheat flour
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 cup canola oil
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup + 2 Tbsp. pumpkin puree
2 Tbsp. applesauce
1 medium apple, peeled, cored, and chopped
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
Preheat the oven to 350 and lightly grease a loaf pan.
Place chopped dates in a small bowl, and then cover with hot water. Allow to stand until the water comes to room temperature.
Meanwhile, sift together the flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg in a large bowl.
In another bowl, or in the bowl of your stand mixer, beat the canola oil and sugars until well blended. Beat in the egg and vanilla, just until incorporated; then add the pumpkin puree and applesauce.
Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and beat until just incorporated. Repeat with another 1/3. Then, add the dates, with their water and beat for just a few seconds. Finally, add the remaining flour and mix until blended (I like using a spatula towards the ends to keep the batter light). Fold in the apples and walnuts. Pour the batter into the loaf pan.
Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes before placing on a rack to cool completely.