date spice loaf

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Date Spice Loaf
Adapted, barely, from Ina Garten

2 cups coarsely chopped dates (10 ounces or 285 grams pitted)
1/3 cup orange liqueur such as Cointreau or Triple Sec
4 tablespoons (2 ounces or 55 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup (145 grams) light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon grated orange zest (2 oranges)
2 cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (3 oranges)
3/4 cup (3 ounces or 85 grams) coarsely chopped pecans

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter the bottom of an 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 by 2 1/2-inch loaf pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pan.

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

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and brown sugar together on medium speed for one minute. Scrape down the bowl. With the mixer on low, add the egg, vanilla, and orange zest. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking 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.

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

Serving: Ina suggests you serve this bread with an orange cream cheese spread, which you can make by creaming 6 ounces of room temperature cream cheese with 1/3 cup sugar and one tablespoon orange zest in an electric mixer until just combined.

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