Not unlike our recent “Tortilla and Chicken Lasagna”, this treat came to be as a means to use up some hangers-on in our pantry. A recent inventory turned up a few cans of pumpkin puree leftover from holiday baking, as well as some medjool dates that were starting to show their age and dry a bit. We always have a few boxes of dates lying around, because they are an easy and healthy sweet treat for our after school scavengers, and terrific with a spot of tea as an afternoon pick-me-up for us elders. Sadly, one of our boxes of dates got buried under some nuts in the pantry and languished there until their skins turned papery, robbing them of their normally glossy curb-appeal.
No worries, they were perfect chopped and added (along with some walnuts) to Tartine Bakery’s fabulous “Pumpkin Tea Bread” recipe. I’ll be honest, Muppet is such a fan of pumpkin bread that we make it here quite frequently, and for convenience use Trader Joe’s rather good boxed mix. Having made this recipe though, I don’t know that I’ll ever go back to a boxed mix again. For just a couple of minutes more work we were rewarded with a bread that was mildly sweet, with a delicious warm spiciness, and a dense-moist crumb that put our boxed mix to shame. Muppet turned up her nose due to the addition of the dates and nuts (How dare you….Grrrrr!), but I am quite confident that the straight cake would have knocked her socks off.
This is the first recipe we’ve played with from the terrific cookbook Tartine , and if this tea cake is any indication of the quality of the balance of the recipes within, we’ll be spending alot more time among its pages soon. Stay tuned!
Cheers – Steve
- 1-2/3 cups (225 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 cup + 2 tablespoons (255 grams) pumpkin puree
- 1 cup vegetable oil such as safflower (I used canola)
- 1-1/3 cups (270g) sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 3 large eggs
- 8 medjool dates, pitted and roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
- Preheat the oven to 325°F. Lightly butter the interior of a 9"x5" loaf pan, then coat with flour, knocking out any excess.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, add the oil, sugar, pumpkin puree, and salt. Whisk vigorously until combined (if the mixture looks separated, just keep whisking and it will eventually come together). Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each so it is completely incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Sift the flour-spice mixture over this and stir with the spatula or a wooden spoon until just combined (don't be heavy-handed with it). Scrape down the sides every now and then to make sure it's evenly mixed.
- Add in the chopped dates and walnuts and gently mix just to incorporate evenly.
- Pour the mix into the prepared pan and bang it on the counter a few times to dislodge any trapped air bubbles. Bake until a cake tester comes out with few crumbs clinging, about 1 hour. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then unmold and cool on a rack completely.
- Serve at room temperature.