Diana's Desserts - www.dianasdesserts.com

Date Nut Bread

Servings: Makes 1 (9 x 5-inch) loaf
Dates are among the sweetest of fruits: Up to 70% of their weight may be sugar. In the dry, desert-like regions of North Africa and the Middle East, where dates have been cultivated for more than 4,000 years, they provide an important source of carbohydrates. Crowning the tops of towering palm trees, dates grow in heavy clusters of oblong brown fruits, as many as 200 in a cluster that weighs up to 25 pounds. About three-fourths of the world's date crop is grown in the Middle East, but much of the U.S. supply comes from California and Arizona, where date orchards (called "gardens" in the industry) were introduced in the early 1900s.

Unlike most fruits, dates contain almost no Vitamin C. However, they are high in dietary fiber and have some potassium and iron.

Dates are harvested in late fall and early winter, but because they store well, they are available throughout the year. Dried pitted dates are best used in this moist and delicious quick bread.

3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick/4 oz/113g) butter, softened
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon freshly grated orange peel
2 eggs
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup chopped dates
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

Serving with:
Cream cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F/180 degrees C. Grease bottom only of a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan. Set aside.

Combine sugar and butter in large bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until creamy. Add sour cream, orange juice, orange peel and eggs; continue beating until well mixed. Reduce speed to low; add flour, baking powder and baking soda. Beat until well mixed. Gently stir in dates and chopped nuts by hand.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake in preheated oven for 45 to 55 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let stand 10 minutes; remove from pan. Cool completely. .

For easier slicing, wrap bread tightly in foil or plastic food wrap and store overnight.

Makes 1 (9 x 5-inch) loaf

Date: July 28, 2007-Revised August 3, 2007