Friday, March 11, 2011

Date walnut quick bread

This post is coming out a little later than I'd hoped because there have been so many things going on at home. First off, we head to India in a few days. I am so excited that I just can't believe it!! Its such a great feeling to be back home amongst family and friends, and this time, we have a little baby boy with us who will be the center of everyone's attention. I really am so excited for our families to spend time with our little kiddo. And, to spend time in your mom's kitchen, as she makes your favorite dishes..... I don't think anything can match that feeling! Growing up, I spent a lot of time watching my mom cook and she would let me help in the kitchen. Looking back, thats how I developed a passion for cooking and eating and doing it all with a focus on health. And this time is going to be interesting because its my first trip to India as a vegan. As you know from this blog or otherwise, I have a big sweet tooth and my mom has already started making lists of what desserts are vegan and what can be veganized. So, lots of interesting recipes will be coming soon to Vegan, not weird!
Plus, I have been doing a lot of reading, other food-related blogs, that is. I found some great info that I feel I should share. This post talk about oils and how processing hurts them and how to choose the right oils. Coconut oil has always been a darling of mine and I am happy to know its not a health villain.
Now, about the date nut bread recipe. If you are just venturing into baking,  a quick bread is a good place to start. The term quick bread is used for breads that rely on baking powder and/or baking soda for the leavening/rise rather than yeast. So, these breads can be baked right away as opposed to waiting for the yeast to work, which can take a few hours. Plus, they are super-easy to make. Typically, you mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl, the wet ingredients in another, and then, combine and pour into the loaf pan. Voila!
This week, I wanted a healthful and filling bread to eat as a snack for all of us, for you know, those mid-morning/mid-afternoon snack attacks. This bread was inspired by the date fig bread in the "Joy of Vegan baking", but I changed it up quite a bit to suit the ingredients that I had. Don't worry, you can even make it without the dates, though I do recommend you try it once with them. This bread gets a deep, rich, brown color from the dates and the baking soda, making it look really beautiful. Plus, the dates in the background provide a wonderful, subtle sweetness while the walnuts make it really hearty. Here's the recipe:

Date nut bread (yield: one 8x4" loaf)
3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup oil
1 and 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup fresh dates, chopped
3/4 cup boiling water + 1/4 cup room temp. water
2 tbsp flaxseed meal + 6 tbsp water
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup cranberries/raisins
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 F and spray your loaf pan with non-stick spray. In a small saucepan, bring the 3/4 cup water to a boil, add the dates and turn the heat off. Set aside for 5 min. so that the dates soften up. In a food processor or a small bowl, combine the flaxseed meal and water, mix until creamy and set aside. In a large bowl, combine the flours, sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Add the nuts, cranberries and chocolate chips, and mix well. Now, process the dates-water mixture into a smooth paste in the food processor/blender. If you don't have dates, you can substitute the date paste with 3/4 cup applesauce. In a medium bowl, combine the date paste, oil, flaxseed meal paste and the 1/4 cup water. Now, add this mixture to the flour mixture and mix until just combined. Pour into the greased loaf pan and bake for 50-60 min. until deep brown on top and a fork inserted in the middle comes out clean. Set pan on wire rack to cool for an hour before slicing the bread.