I am back, my friends, because this is a recipe worth sharing. It’s slightly adapted from a Date Nut Bread recipe in Food52’s new Vegan cookbook – a delightful cookbook indeed, whether you’re an experienced vegan, an aspiring vegan, or an omnivore who likes to cook and eat all kinds of different things (and maybe minimize your food consumption’s harmful impact on the environment and animals). There’s something kind of fresh and beautiful and clean about the cookbook, even though a lot of the recipes are the same ol’ thing – tofu scrambles, mac-n-[tahini and nutritional yeast instead of]cheese. I’m a sucker for all the things the book does well: simple, straightforward recipes; stunning photography; lots of grains and greens and beans. I’m also a sucker for dates, as are my children, as we all are for all things “bread”, so this recipe was rather inevitably the first one I tackled from the book, within about 24 hours of picking it up from the library. I am v. glad I tackled it. It is nothing short of absolutely delicious.
The day we baked this bread may v. well have been our last snow day of the year, given current forecasts, and nothing says baking day like a little flurry, right?
B was my helper, as usual. He’s a pretty great little baker. He has gotten v. good at measuring by weight and whisking without making a giant mess. He’s not so good at cracking eggs, so thank heavens for flaxseeds.
My changes were minimal, motivated by resourcefulness, economics, and safety: used 200 g of dates + 175 g raisins, as that’s what I had on hand and anyway dates are like six times the cost of raisins; omitted the walnuts because, well, anaphylaxis; doubled the salt and ditched a a third of the sugar (I almost always do both of these in baked goods, unless it’s the kind of crazy decadent cookies that are fully intended to cause a toothache, then I use the called-for amount of sugar); used bread flour because I didn’t have all-purpose.
It’s still supergood and moist (ew!) and perfect on day 4, particularly (but by no means necessarily) if you suddenly recall that you’re not vegan and top it with a big smear of butter and a sprinkle of salt. Dang.
Two mega tips:
1. Sift your baking soda into the dry ingredients (or wet, if you prefer; just make sure there are zero clumps). Here’s B showing you how.
2. Cool completely before slicing. It’s hard (like, really hard) but you’ll have a much more structurally sound bread if you do.
Vegan Date Raisin Bread
Adapted from Food52
Yields: 1 standard loaf; about 10-12 servings
2 cups boiling water
1 cup pitted dates (I used deglet), chopped as finely as you can be bothered
1/2 cup raisins
2 cups (250 g) all-purpose or bread flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking soda (sift this!)
1/2 teaspoon salt (finely ground – if using kosher salt, use 3/4 to 1 teaspoon)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground flaxseeds
3/4 cup soy milk or other nondairy milk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup melted coconut oil (another more neutral oil will work here too, e.g. grapeseed, sunflower)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 9X5″ loaf pan.
Pour boiling water over chopped dates and raisins and let them soak while you prepare everything else.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, sifted baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
In a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together 1 tablespoon of flaxseeds and 3 tablespoons of the water that your dates are soaking in (or if there’s not enough, just use some warm tap water). Let the flax-water mixture sit until thickened. In a larger bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the nondairy milk and vinegar until frothy. (Wondering why the vinegar? Two reasons: (1) it will “sour” the nondairy milk and act like buttermilk, making for a more tender (ew!) bread; (2) the vinegar will react with all that baking soda in the oven, helping the bread rise a bit despite the absence of eggs, which are a big player in the leavening of traditional baked goods.) Add the melted coconut oil and the flaxseed mixture. Pour into the dry ingredients and stir just until combined.
Drain the dates and raisins well. Fold them into the batter, then stir in a splash more of nondairy milk if it seems too dry. (I didn’t need a splash more of milk, but I didn’t really drain my dates and raisins that well.) Pour batter into greased pan.
Bake for 35-45 minutes, rotating pan after about 20 minutes. Insert a toothpick or knife into center to see if it’s dry. Let cool in pan for 30 minutes, then turn onto a wire rack and cool for a least 15 minutes longer before slicing and serving. Store in an airtight container for at least four days.