Here I am on Day 19 of my Whole30 adventure, and man, oh man am I dying for a cookie. Or even half a cookie. Hell, I’d even take a single morsel of dark chocolate at this point. It probably doesn’t help that my entire Instagram feed is flooded with pictures of delicious treats from all the baking blogs and food magazines I follow, but the whole “after a couple weeks, you won’t even crave sugar anymore!” thing definitely isn’t working on me.
This week, the struggle was especially real. Wintertime instinctively makes me want to spend the majority of my free time hunkered down in my kitchen baking up cozy treats (both to warm up my apartment without having to run the heat and to reward myself for managing to emerge from my warm comforter burrito every morning). And that baseline instinct was ratcheted right up to max force earlier this week when we had a snap of wicked cold weather (complete with snow!). It was all I could do to keep myself from busting open my baking cabinet and whipping up a batch of brown-butter toffee pecan blondies (don’t worry, they’ll be the subject of a future post as soon as I’m back on the sugar).
Then, to make things worse, yesterday we had a visitor come by my office for lunch and bring a beautiful box of Godiva chocolates for my co-workers and I. It took ever ounce of willpower I had not to immediately snatch the box from his hands, abscond with it back to my office, and down every single one of those chocolates before anyone could stop me. But, as I’m in the home stretch now (just 11 more days!), I managed to convince myself that I might as well push on through.
So, instead of spending my Saturday afternoon baking up some treats, I’ll have content myself with telling y’all about one of my favorite past bakes. I made this rum spiced date loaf (lightly adapted from Deb Perelman’s recipe on Smitten Kitchen) last fall, and it turned out so good, I hoarded the whole loaf for myself and didn’t bring it in to work as I usually would. Sometimes a girl’s just gotta be a little selfish, you know?
Anyway, hope y’all enjoy!
- 2 cups coarsely chopped pitted dates
- 1 cup dark rum (1/3 for soaking the dates, 2/3 for mixing into the batter)
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 3/4 cup light brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 cups flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp nutmet
- 1/4 tsp cloves
- 3/4 cups chopped pecans
- Preheat oven to 350F. Butter the bottom and sides of a loaf pan (mine is 9.25 in. x 5.25 in. x 2.75 in.), then flour the bottom to prevent sticking. You could also line the pan with parchment if you like, but I find that as long as you thoroughly butter and flour, the loaf will come out just fine without parchment.
- Combine the chopped dates and 1/3 cup rum in a bowl and set aside 30-60 minutes to let the dates really soak up the rum. Stir occasionally to make sure every date gets its fill.
- Cream the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, vanilla, and remaining 2/3 cup rum and mix until combined.
- In another bowl, combine the flour, salt, spices, baking powder, and baking soda. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients in batches, mixing to combine. Stir in the dates (including any liquid left in the bowl) and pecans.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly. (I like to kind of shake the pan back and forth and side to side on the counters to get the batter to spread itself into the corners–it takes a bit longer than just using a spatula, but then you don’t end up wit problem of having a glob of batter left on the spatula to scrape off and kind of awkwardly plop on top.)
- Bake approximately 1 hour, until a toothpick/cake tester/etc. comes out clean (i.e., crumb/batter free). Let cool in the pan 10-15 min. or so before turning out onto a wire rack to finish cooling.
As with most dessert-y breads, I think this one is best (and most irresistible) when served while still slightly warm from the oven, in thick slices smeared with a generous pad of butter. Or, to add a bit more sweetness, whip up a quick batch of honey butter (just cream together a stick of room temperature butter and 1/4 cup honey) and spread to your heart’s content!