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WALNUT AND DATE LOAF

Believed to have originated in Iraq, dates have been a staple food of the Middle East for thousands of year, ancient Egyptians even using them to make wine. As civilization spread, so did the date, being introduced to Mexico and California by the Spaniards in 1765.

There are two kinds of walnuts -- English walnuts, which originated in Persia, and black walnuts, which are native to North America. The ones most commonly used are the English variety, although the black ones have higher nutritional value. My garden in Toronto sported a black walnut tree, much loved by my dogs, for the fact that they attracted hordes of squirrels.

The recipe below combines the wonderful flavours of dates, walnuts and dried fruit into a dense tea bread ideal for serving thinly sliced with butter, or as an accompaniment to sharp cheddar, Limburger or blue cheese. Don't forget to pour yourself a glass of port to round off the combination and complete the "trinity."

INGREDIENTS

175 ml (3/4 cup) all-purpose flour

11/4 ml (1/4 tsp) baking soda

11/4 ml (1/4 tsp) baking powder

21/2 ml (1/2 tsp) salt

175 ml (3/4 cup) brown sugar

250 ml (1 cup) dried apricots (cranberries, figs, plums) chopped finely

500 ml (2 cups) moist dates, chopped

750 ml (3 cups) whole walnuts

3 eggs

5 ml (1 tsp) vanilla essence

 

COOKING INSTRUCTIONS

1. Combine all dry ingredients.

2. Beat eggs and sugar then add vanilla.

3. Mix dry ingredients into egg mixture.

4. Add dates, walnuts and apricots.

5. Spoon into baking tin and smooth the top lightly.

6. Bake at 150 C (300 F) for 55 minutes.

7. Yields 1 large or 2 medium loaf pans.

8. Serve with cheese.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 18, 2014 D14

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