Date Nut Spice Bread

  • For the date nut spice bread
  • 285g coarsely chopped dates, pitted
  • 80ml orange liqueur (recommended: Cointreau or Triple Sec)
  • 60g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 150g light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1 extra large egg
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla essence
  • 5g grated orange zest (2 oranges)
  • 280g plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 180ml freshly squeezed orange juice (3 oranges)
  • 85g coarsely chopped pecans
  • For the cream cheese spread
  • 170g cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 65g granulated sugar
  • 5g grated orange zest
1) Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4. Butter the bottom of an 21 1/2 x 11 x 6cm loaf pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pan.

2) Combine the dates and orange liqueur in a small bowl and set aside for 30 mins. Stir occasionally.

3) In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and brown sugar together on medium speed for 1 min. Scrape down the bowl. With the mixer on low, add the egg, vanilla, and orange zest. Sift together the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt. With the mixer still on low, add the flour mixture alternately with the orange juice to the creamed mixture, beating only until combined. By hand, stir in the dates with their liquid, and the pecans.

4) Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and smooth the top. Bake for 50 to 60 mins, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 mins, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.

5) Meanwhile, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the cream cheese, sugar, and orange zest on medium speed until just combined.

6) Slice the bread and serve with the orange cream cheese on the side for spreading.

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