Friday, 6 April 2012

Cardamom Bliss Date Nut and Chocolate Loaf

Sprinkled with gold lamé sugar crystals
Cardamom Bliss Date Nut and Chocolate Loaf

I almost never bake but with the snow melting ever so slowly, I think something broke loose in my brain.  It may have been caused by pictures and a recipe for walnut and coffee muffins on Shalini's baking blog in India*, I don’t know, but I rushed from the computer into the kitchen, frustrated that I don’t know how to make South Indian coffee, the beverage of choice to go with her muffins.

I suddenly remembered I had the ingredients for a date nut loaf, so I grabbed my 1971 The New York Times Natural Foods Cookbook, to find a basic recipe to fiddle with and tweak.  Husband person leaned over my shoulder, asking if it is the world’s oldest hippy cookbook.  I said probably, but was displeased to see that their recipe called for white flour, for heaven’s sake!  (Adelle Davis, bless us and save us!)  Here’s how I changed their old recipe:
2 tablespoons butter
¼ cup molasses
¼ cup raw sugar cane crystals
1 egg
1 ½ cups organic whole wheat flour
½ teaspoon coarse salt
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
8 green cardamom pods, husked and ground with a mortar and pestle
2 tablespoons plain yogurt and milk added to the ¾ cup mark
1 tablespoon real vanilla
1 cup pitted and chopped dates
½  cup chopped walnuts
1 square unsweetened bakers’ chocolate, chopped  (You want most of it fine, but some small chunks add a great contrasting taste that compliments the walnuts.)
sprinkles of gold lame sugar (so optional)

Turn on oven to 350 F.  Butter a bread loaf pan, set aside.  In a mixing bowl, cream the butter at high speed.  Turn off machine and add molasses and sugar, scrape the bowl, and continue mixing.  With the mixer on at medium speed, add the egg .  Continue beating while mixing the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl.  I don’t sift, but I do stir them together with a slotted spoon or large fork.  Put the yogurt, milk and vanilla into a measuring cup.  With the mixer on low, alternately add the flour and milk, until all are incorporated.  Fold in the dates, walnuts, and chocolate.  The batter will be fairly stiff.  Spoon it into the loaf pan, smoothing it out.  Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, till a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Adelle Davis wouldn't have blessed this item...
Because I cannot resist gilding the lily, I sprinkled gold lamé sugar over it, just as it came out of the oven.  This recipe isn't too sweet; the dates carry what sweetness there is.  It’s nice with coffee, but would be better with South Indian filtered coffee, something I have yet to master.  

*This lady's blog is full of great recipes.  She makes fabulous icing flowers and great Barbie Doll cakes too!  Take a look at:  baketitude: Coffee and Walnut Muffins with Jaggery

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