Old-Fashioned Date-Nut Bread

Recipe by PJ Hamel

Maybe you remember buying date-nut bread at the supermarket; Thomas' was a favorite. Or maybe your mom used to make you date-nut sandwiches: date-nut bread sandwiched around cream cheese. Whatever your memories of this venerable quick bread, here's your chance to relive those happy days.

10 mins
45 to 55 mins
55 mins
1 loaf, about 16 servings
Old-Fashioned Date-Nut Bread


Prevent your screen from going dark as you follow along.
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease an 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" loaf pan.

  2. Place the dates, butter, baking soda, salt, and brown sugar in a mixing bowl. Pour the hot coffee into the bowl, stirring to combine. Allow the mixture to cool for 15 minutes.

  3. Add the egg, vanilla, liquor, baking powder, and flour, beating gently until smooth. Stir in the walnuts.

  4. Pour the batter into the pan, gently tapping the pan on the counter to settle the batter.

  5. Bake the bread for 45 to 55 minutes, tenting the loaf gently with foil after 30 minutes, to prevent over-browning. Remove the bread from the oven; a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center should come out clean, and an instant-read thermometer should read about 200°F.

  6. After 10 minutes, gently turn the bread out of the pan onto a rack to cool. Cool completely before slicing. Wrap airtight, and store at room temperature for several days; freeze for longer storage.

Tips from our Bakers

  • Feel free to use a flavored coffee here; caramel or vanilla are both good choices.
  • What's up with the vodka or brandy? Alcohol is a flavor enhancer, serving to disperse flavor molecules throughout the bread; leave it out if you like.
  • Why the range in sugar? Some people like sweeter breads; some, less so. Your choice.
  • Can you substitute boiling water for hot coffee? Well, if you're thinking substitute because you don't like the flavor of coffee, don't worry; the bread doesn't taste at all like coffee. If you can't take coffee's acidity or caffeine, though, then substituting water is fine. The bread may be slightly denser, due to the removal of coffee's acidity, which reacts with baking soda to produce rise; counteract this by substituting 1 tablespoon lemon juice for 1 tablespoon of the water.