Don’t get me wrong, I neither promote nor follow a fat-free diet. Olive oil, nuts, seeds, avocados, cheese, peanut butter, chocolate, salmon, and 2% greek yogurt are all staples in my eating regime. That being said, in an attempt to eat a bit lighter during the interim between holidays, I am being extra cautious of gobbling down rich baked goods. I will continue to enjoy a spoonful of peanut butter melting into my morning oatmeal, pecans sprinkled over oil & vinegar-dressed salads, 2% yogurt topped with granola, and the occasional square of dark chocolate, but I’m sticking to my plan of lightening homemade baked goods when possible.
I made many alterations to Ina’s original recipe (linked below). I subbed in 1 cup of whole wheat pastry flour, completely eliminated the refined sugar, swapped mashed banana for the butter, and opted for the addition of pumpkin pie spice. The lack of nuts in my version was simply due to a pantry bereft of pecans, of which I have been eating in abundance (note to self: re-stock pecan stash ASAP!).
The generous amount of chopped dates lent the perfect amount of natural sweetness, and the mashed banana kept the bread tender and moist. The lovely flavor of citrus permeates the bread beautifully, thanks to the triple threat of orange liqueur, orange zest, and orange juice. I’m sure the original recipe yields a sweet and buttery dessert bread, but my version is better suited for breakfast or a mid-afternoon snack. The bread is best when served warm straight out of the oven, (what baked good isn’t?), but a quick re-heat in the toaster oven does the trick for leftover slices.
Fat-Free, Naturally Sweetened Date Bread
Inspired by Ina Garten’s Date Nut Spice Bread
yields 10 thick slices, or 12 thinner slices
- 2 cups coarsely chopped pitted medjool dates (about 10 ounces pitted)
- 1/3 cup orange liqueur (Triple Sec or Cointreau)
- 1/4 cup mashed overripe banana (about 1 small)
- 1 large egg
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 Tbsp grated orange zest (1 large orange yielded this amount for me)
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
- 1 tsp Kosher salt
- 3/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (3-4 oranges)
- canola oil cooking spray
- Preheat oven to 350*F. Line the bottom of an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 1/2-inch loaf pan with parchment paper. Spray loaf pan with canola oil cooking spray.
- Combine chopped dates and orange liqueur in a bowl. Set aside for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the mashed banana and egg together on low speed. Add in the vanilla extract and orange zest.
- Sift together both types of flour, baking powder and soda, spices and salt. With the mixer still on low speed, gradually add the flour mixture into the banana mixture, alternating with the orange juice. Beat just until combined.
- Using a rubber spatula, stir in the dates along with the remaining liquid.
- Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan, and smooth the top. Bake at 350*F for about 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean. Cool in pan for a few minutes, then transfer to a cutting board. Cut into 10-12 slices and serve.