There is something very comforting about old family recipes – the kind that you ate as a child, learnt to make as you got older, and then take into your own home to continue the tradition. This recipe is an old recipe from my family, and possibly one of my Dad’s favourite baked things. The walnuts are optional, but I much prefer to add them. All the cup measurements below are based on a 250 ml mug as equal to one cup (yes, that is an old family tradition too…!). Unfortunately, I don’t know the dimensions of the loaf tin that should be used, but a normalish-sized one should do (mine is too small and so I end up making a handful of muffins with the leftover mixture each time I make this).
What you need:
250 gram pack dates, roughly chopped
1 cup walnuts (whole or roughly chopped)
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 cup boiling water
1 cup brown sugar
2 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon dried ginger
1 egg, beaten
What to do:
1. Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 5 (190º C or 375º F).
2. Put the chopped dates, walnuts, butter or margarine and bicarb into a large bowl. Add the boiling water to the bowl, mix everything together and let it stand for a few minutes, stirring a couple of times to ensure that everything is well mixed and the butter/margarine fully melted.
3. When the butter/margarine has melted and the mixture has stood for a few minutes, add the sugar to the bowl and then sift in the flour and ginger before adding the beaten egg and mixing everything together thoroughly with a whisk.
4. Pour the mixture into a greased loaf tin and bake in the middle of the pre-heated oven for about 40-60 minutes (depending on the size of the tin) until done.
5. Tip the loaf out of the tin and try to resist immediately cutting off a slice and spreading it thickly with butter before eating it leave to cool on a cooling rack.