I have put up a recipe of this kind before – I promise you. But I keep going back to it, because the ingredients are entirely too easy to get in this part of the world – that would be the Middle East. In the summer people are often seen underneath date trees with large tarps – someone climbs up the tree and throws down the sun-soaked sweet dates. As a child I never liked dates. They were hard and too sugary, and I picked them out of granola and cereal on a regular basis. Then I started liking them, but really only knew about mejdool dates. When we moved to Abu Dhabi, I was shown the wonderful world of dates, and now khodri and segai are my favorite kinds. But back to the date bread (which can or cannot have nuts depending on what you like etc. etc…)
Often I will hesitate before making it – it involves opening the dates, pulling out the pits, and then cutting or chopping them into small pieces. My fingers are left with a sugary-sweet substance all over them. I am filled with a sense of relief once the dates (roughly 1 1/2 cups when it is all said and done) are chopped. They are placed in a bowl and one cup of boiling water and 1 tsp of baking soda are added to the dates. I typically watch the baking soda rise up and bubble for a few seconds and then place the bowl to the side for about 15-20 minutes.
While the dates are soaking, preheat the oven to 325F and grease a 9 x 5 loaf pan.
The oven’s temperature rises, and I know that it will eventually reach 325 – 330 F, which will be ideal for cooking this sweet bit of perfection.
In a separate bowl, I mix together
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 C oat bran
2/3 C whole wheat pastry flour
1/3 C flax seeds
1/2 C All Bran Cereal
1/2 tsp salt
and then in yet another bowl I whisk together
1/4 C vegetable oil
1/3 – 1/2 C agave nectar
1/4 tsp Fiori di Sicilia – this is simply heaven, it adds and amazing sweet citrus flavor and makes everything taste like wedding cake as far as I am concerned, and THAT is definitely a good thing.
Mix the flour mixture with the oil and eggs, and once it is all incorporated add the dates. Pour the mixture into the loaf pan and bake for roughly 45-50 minutes or until the top is brown and a cake tester comes out clean. Allow the bread to cool in the pan on a cooling rack for 10 minutes, then turn the bread out of the pan on the cooling rack. Allow to cool for about 40 minutes (if this is at all possible) before cutting into the date bread.