This is a favourite. It’s a deliciously sweet loaf that is great for toasting for several days after it has been made. It also makes a wonderful bread and butter pudding. It has all the decadence of an enriched dough (a dough made with milk, butter and eggs) but actually it’s a simple white dough with dates, walnuts and honey. You can learn to make this bread on my Sweet Doughs Online Course, along with buttery brioche, cinnamon knots, babka, teacakes, Chelsea buns and Shropshire butter buns.
Date and walnut loaf
500g strong white flour or 250g white bread flour and 250g wholemeal bread flour
20g runny honey
1 sachet of easy bake yeast or 5-10g fresh yeast
320-340g water (in total, add 100g with the dates and 220-240g later)
3 bowls, scales, knife, chopping board, proving cloth or shower cap, loaf tin or baking tray, cooling rack
Finely chop 25g of the walnuts and coarsely chop the rest. Chop the dates and cover with 100g of boiling water. Leave to stand until the water is tepid.
Place the flour, salt and yeast (keep the salt and yeast separate) in a large bowl. If using fresh yeast crumble it into the flour. Add the walnuts and honey. Drain the dates but reserve the soaking water. Place the soaked dates in the bowl with the rest of the ingredients. Measure the reserved water into the bowl and then add more water until you have 320g of water in the bowl.
Using a clawed hand mix well, the dough should be on the sticky side. If it still feels dry add a bit more water until it feels softly sticky. Leave to rest and use the stretch and fold method as described in this video.
Once you have done all of the stretch and folds, leave to prove until light and airy. Preheat your oven to 200℃, gas mark 6, placing a solid tray on the shelf to heat up. Tip the dough out of the bowl onto a lightly floured surface, shape and leave to rise again until ready for the oven. Place your bread onto the solid tray and bake for 30-40 minutes until a rich brown and sounds hollow when tapped or has an internal temperature of at least 88℃. Leave to cool on a wire tray.
If you like you can glaze this loaf with a simple sugar syrup as soon as it comes out of the oven. This gives it a lovely shine. Place 25g sugar and 25g water in a small pan and bring to a simmer. Simmer for a few minutes. Brush this all over the top of the loaf as soon as you turn it onto the cooling rack. (You may want to place some kitchen roll or baking parchment underneath to catch the drips).