The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Golden Date Bread

Mebake's picture

Golden Date Bread

As i browsed through Laurel's Cookbook for Wholegrain Breads, i came across a recipe that utilizes Dates! and i live in a region where Dates in most forms are abundant all year round. The recipe calls for Pitted dates, that must be simmered first, and the resultant cooled goo is to be added to the dough. I had some date paste (used for confectionary, and pastry), and used it instead, so its not technically Golden Date Bread. I also added poolish to the recipe, and adjusted the formula accordingly. This bread, is a 100% Whole Wheat enriched bread, that is leavened by commercial yeast.




The Dough was quite thirsty, due to all the fiber, and was mixed longer for proper development.


The dough received two deflations, prior to preshaping. Final proofing was tricky, as i had

Pointers to the final fermentation time. Seems i underproofed slightly.


Today morning, i've had a few slices for breakfast. WOW! the first morsel struck me with its date-sweetness. The sweetness is very pleasent, and dates really lend a well bodied flavor. The bread is packed with fiber, from both wheat and dates. No bitterness of wholewheat was evident. The crumb is smooth and soft, not dense, and the crust is tender.

Very Recommended.


ananda's picture

Hi Khalid,

The loaf looks fabulous and I'm sue it's as tasty as you describe.

Something to help you with the formula here: the sweet dates will no doubt compete with the flour for water...and they will win too!   So, knowing the quantity of water in the date puree would really help you.   I would combine Poolish with final flour and water and autolyse for one hour first, before mixing the final dough.   That should help to get maximum water take up, and therefore full proof without the split you have identified at the top of the loaf side.

All good wishes


Mebake's picture

Very Bright thinking, Andy! Never thought of Autolyze from that perspective. The date puree was very thirsty stuff, and it lead to a dry final dough, despite the 75% hydration.

Thank you so much, Andy .

BTW, i have baked one of your recipes lately: Sunflower seed bread.

ananda's picture

Hi Khalid,

I'll bet you added in some of your lovely wholewheat flour to the grist?

How did it turn out?

Best wishes


Mebake's picture

It was lovely, Andy! The sunflower liquor lent a very pronounced sunflower flavor to the bread. I have overmatured the liquid levain, and the resultant dough was tangy, very extensible, and i eventually overproofed it. The flavor was superb.

And yes, i did add freshly milled wholewheat flour (white wheat).

Syd's picture

Nice baking Khalid.  I would really like this loaf.  I love the taste and the sweetness of dates.  I bet they are the perfect complement to wholewheat.  Great suggestion by Andy to do the autolyse without the dates.  I guess they act like salt and draw water away from the flour.  What whole wheat flour did you use?  Atta?



pmccool's picture

Whole wheat bread is good; adding dates is only going to make it better.  I know the tendency to over-critique one's own baking but those look pretty good from here.


Janetcook's picture


I am a sucker for putting dates into bread....not sure why but I love the way they make the dough feel when they are soaked and made into a paste as you have done.  I found them thirsty too and did toss in extra water and the result was great and now, due to Andy's comment, I know why :-)

Your loaves look very nice - soft crumb and all.  I am sure it is wonderful I will have go figure out how to add a loaf to my line just keeps getting longer!

Take Care and thanks for the post!


varda's picture

with local foods.   And that means something different for each of us.   I love the color of the crumb.  Looks delicious!  -Varda

ehanner's picture

I was just reading something about using a raisin paste to replace sugar in foods as they are more friendly to the digestive system. Dates are certainly in the same category and have a more pronounced flavor in my opinion. Very nice post on this bread my friend. Thank you for sharing.


PiPs's picture

Nice Khalid,

What a great way of adding a subtle sweetness to a wholegrain bread. It looks very smooth and delicious. I bet your family is enjoying it immensely :)

I have never seen date paste before ... probably wouldn't last long in our house.

Thank you for sharing

All the best,


Mebake's picture

Thanks, syd! Date is such a nourishing fruit! As to the flour, no, I used part organic turkish whole wheat flour,and part freshly milled Australian white whole wheat.

Thanks for the heads up, Paul! This is indeed a very flavorful bread.

Thank you Janet! That was my first time to ever have eaten, let alone baked, a bread with a date purée. I have eaten loads of bread that have the purée trapped within challa like braids. Do try it sometime, Janet.

Thanks varda! It tastes much better than it looks, actually :)

Thank you Eric! Very filling too, this bread is packed with fiber, and will be very helpful to digestive tract.

Mebake's picture

Thank you, Phil! They did enjoy it, and so did i.

teketeke's picture

Your loaves look gorgeous , Khalid! I never heard of Dates before... I am very interested in the ingredient. I want to taste your bread! Very nice!

Happy holiday, too!

lumos's picture

You might have not heard 'dates' but you've surely heard of  「なつめ (natsume)」, which is Japanese name for dates. ;)  It's always been in Japanese food culture for very long time, brought to Japan from somewhere in the Middle East via China on Silk Road in Nara period (8th century),  though it hasn't been used very much last 100 years or so except for traditional Japanese sweets.  You know a small container for green tea powder used in tea ceremony? That's called 「なつめ」because the shape is similar to date fruit.  ;)

Interesting about dried dates is.... for some reason it tastes a bit like あんこ (sweetened aduki bean paste, traditional used of Japanese sweets).  I'm sure you'll like it.

teketeke's picture

Thank you for the information, Lumos!  I also thank you, Khalid!

I heard " なつめ" before, but I didn't know what that was until you explained it to me to be honest. I really appreciate for taking a time to write up.  The taste of dates is very interesting. I surely like it.  I will look for it when I go for a ride. 

Thank you so much again and Merry Christmas,


Mebake's picture

Thanks, Akiko! Date is the fruit of Desert Palm tree. The tree is native to the desert, and Dubai's climate is technically a desert. Date fruit is rich in finber, sugars, vitamins, and minerals.

Happy holidays!

lumos's picture

Wow.... Got to make this!   I love dates, and I have a quite good recipe for date cakes (basically a fruit cake with dates and walnut), but never used dates for bread. Adding it as pureed form is very interesting, too.

Thank you for sharing. :)

Looking forward to seeing more of your inspirational breads in 2012, too!

best wishes,


Mebake's picture

Thanks, Lumos!

Happy Holidays to you!

EvaB's picture

my mother an I used to buy dates (pitted) in a block and eat a small chunk with our coffee for breakfast for a number of years, it was a delicious start to the day, and they tasted so good! Another family favourite is Matrimonial cake, which is actually a bar cookie cake with a base made of oats and butter and topped with date paste (cook the dates with water and cool) and then topped with more oats and butter and the whole thing baked, tasty, full of fibre, and much better for one than the fluffy bakery cakes that most people served for desert.

Mebake's picture

Thank you, Ema. Yummy, the cake sounds delicious! What is a bar cookie cake?

EvaB's picture

technically a bar cookie really isn't a cookie, but more a cake or filled desert. A brownie might be called a cake, but its not really a cake, and its not a bar cookie either but it has elements of both.

A bar cookie is usually a 9x13 inch pan with a base of cookie dough, or a similar dough like you would make to make a cut cookie from, a sort of shortbread dough can be used as well, this is slightly baked to set, then a filling of several kinds might be put on top of the base, this can be a filling like the dates which is pre cooked, or one that needs to be cooked like a custard, then you top it with streusel, or another solid dough, and bake, the whole thing to set. Its usually cut into two by two inch chunks, but some I've seen are cut into inch squares when really rich.

You can of course melt chocolate to put on top instead of the streusel, and the variations are huge.

If you can search the web, at they will have tons of bar cakes, or cookies. Its a fast way to get a similar taste profile for many filled cookies like rughlach or linzer, without taking the time to cut each out and fill and bake, you can just do one large pan, and fill and bake, then cut!

The Matrimonial cake is called this as it was served at weddings, and as you might expect its a Scottish invention as oats are a national food in Scotland, and of course the dates would have been an exotic fruit at one time, so it combines the best of both worlds, a basic food and a fancy one, with butter which would have been one of those more expensive items for a family so would have been a sort of show off food that one could afford the dates, and butter to make the cake for celebrations. Of course now its mostly relagated to funerals around here, and even then its poorly made. I remember when I was a child the filling was at least half an inch thick, now you are lucky to get a filling of a bare quarter inch, and the oats are not done with butter, but more margerine, which just doesn't have the same taste.

Lord this is making me hungry for matrimonial cake, will have to make some!

Matrimonial Cake or Date Bars,

1-1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1-1/2 cup rolled oats
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter,softenedIn a bowl, combine flour, rolled oats, sugar, baking soda and salt; blend in butter until mixture is crumbly. Pat half onto bottom of 9 inch square pan. Spread filling (see below) evenly over the top. Sprinkle with the remaining flour mixture, patting lightly.

Bake in a 350°F oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until nicely browned. Let cool; cut into squares.

Makes: 36 squares

Variation: Mincemeat Squares; Use 2 cups mincemeat instead of date filling.

FILLING:2 cup dates, chopped, pitted
1/2 cup sugar, granulated
1 teaspoon lemon juice
3/4 cup boiling waterIn saucepan, cook dates, sugar, lemon juice and water over medium heat, stirring often, until the dates are soft, about 15 minutes. Let cool.


Matrimonial Cake

1 1/4 c. rolled oats
1 3/4 c. flour
1 1/2 c. brown sugar
1 c. butter
1 tsp. soda
Grated rind of 1 lemonMix ingredients as for pie. Put half of mixture in the bottom of a 9 x 9 inch baking pan. Spread with date filling. Put remaining crumb mixture over date filling, pressing it down lightly.DATE FILLING:1 1/2 c. dates, chopped fine
1/4 c. brown sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
Enough water to cover datesBring to boil; simmer until thick and of spreading consistency. Cool before spreading on cake. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.this one is closer to what I remember as a child, and one lady would use orange juice instead of lemon, probably because oranges were more prevalent in the store and cheaper. It was mostly sweet from the dates alone, and brown sugar in smaller quanties would be better than a lot of granulated stuff!The oats of my childhood would have been slow cooking rolled oats, not ground or chopped either, they were whole pieces, and the cakes looked toasty on top with the nicely browned topping.


jarkkolaine's picture

I had some dates left from Christmas so I tried your recipe, and the outcome was delicious! Sweet but not too sweet. I'll definitely make this again. Thanks! 

Mebake's picture

Wow, Eva! thanks alot for the elaboration :) and thank you for the recipe. Really appreciated.
Whatever you bake at home, it is bound to be better than storebought. Glad to know that dates are used in bakes round the world!