I hate getting sick. But that’s my current situation right now. From a sore throat, I developed a cough and now, a flu. When it rains, it pours huh? But what’s a sick girl to do when she is awakened in the middle of the night, with no means of going back to sleep again? The poor oven must hate me, for making it work regularly, and not even allowing it to rest in the wee hours of the morning.
With a tissue over my nose and sniffling, I opened my fridge to see what’s there. Goodness! Those spiced pistachios are good, no doubt, but we still have half the bagful left?! I was already bored of eating those. So, a mental check was made for pistachio to be on my ingredient list. Hmm, what else? Oh, and dates! Definitely dates and anytime is a good time to get rid of our never-ending supply of dates.
Both the nuts and dates were from my trip to Oman a few months back. They brought back fond memories of my grand-aunt’s walnut and pistachio loaf, one that was really flavourful with the right amount of sweetness enhanced by the dates themselves. She had lovingly and thoughtfully baked two huge loafs for my family to snack on via our long flights home. Even after a couple of days, the bread was still moist and tender. Amazing!
Armed with my trusty basic muffin recipe in my head, I made an attempt to recreate my grand-aunt’s recipe. I pitted some dates and roughly chopped them up. Then I shelled and halved the pistachios. The dates were sticky and clumped together, so I thought of blending them up with some liquid required in the recipe, in this case, milk. So into the blender went the milk and half the dates and nuts. A few pulses were introduced to break down those and left aside.
The rest of the baking process went pretty much uneventfully. Instead of a loaf pan, I used an angel-food tube pan just because I like donut-looking cakes J. I buttered the pan and preheated the oven right before mixing the liquid and the dry ingredients together. I added in the remaining dates and nuts at the last minute, after mixing the liquid and dry parts together. Hmm, this is looking good. I’m good, or so I thought. So who would have thought that trouble would come as I prepared to put the pan into the oven. I was still feeling good about myself when I saw the tube from the angel-food pan staring straight at me. And I thought “Oh good, now I can just hold onto the tube and put the pan into the oven. Yay! How easy this process was!” But you see, my pan had a removable base and of course, the tube started to come off. Luckily I managed to save the cake in time and still popped it into the oven after scrapping the sides off and flattening the top again.
When the timer went off, I could hardly wait to take my creation out of the oven. I wanted to try a piece as soon as possible, just to see if I am close to my grand-aunt. But I had a hard time removing the pan out from the oven. Puzzled and scratching my head, I thought of the reasons why the pan was stuck! Suddenly it occurred to me that the batter had seeped through the pan due to my mis-adventure earlier on and so it was stuck onto the base. Ah! Oh well, nothing a scraper can’t resolve. So my loaf came out looking good, sans a crack down the middle, but boy! It was good! The combination of brown sugar and dates cannot be beat and the use of pistachios was different and could use a little getting used to. Though not identical to my grant-aunt’s for obvious reasons, as I used pistachios instead of walnuts, but nevertheless, still YUM! Better yet, I can call this my original recipe.
Date & Pistachio Loaf
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 3 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- 2/3 cup brown sugar, packed
- 1 large egg
- 6 tbsp vegetable oil
- 3/4 tsp vanilla essence
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 cup dates, pitted and chopped
- ½ cup pistachios, roasted and shelled
Preheat oven to 180C. Butter a 9”x5” loaf pan or a 20-cm angelfood tube pan.
Blend half the dates and nuts with milk until slightly both are slightly finer.
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and soda. Set aside.
To another large bowl, beat egg with vegetable oil until an emulsion forms. To that, mix in the brown sugar and vanilla essence.
Add in half the milk mixture into the egg-oil mixture and mix well. To this add in half the flour. Mix quickly until no white spots are seen. Repeat with the remaining milk and flour. This time, add in the remaining dates and nuts too. Work quickly, as someone once said, a lumpy batter is a good batter.
Pour and spread batter evenly in your prepared pan. I baked mine for about 41 minutes in the tube pan, or until toothpick comes out clean.
When done, cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before removing the pan to cool completely on a rack. Serve as it is, or I would think, better warmed in a toaster and served with honey!