Old-Fashioned Date-Nut Bread

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Yield: 1 loaf, about 16 servings

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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.

Old-Fashioned Date-Nut Bread

star rating (18) rate this recipe »
Hands-on time:
Baking time:
Total time:
Yield: 1 loaf, about 16 servings
Published: 08/28/2012


  • 2 cups chopped dates
  • 4 tablespoons softened butter
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 to 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup hot brewed coffee
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon vodka or brandy, optional; to enhance flavor
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 3/4 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

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.


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.

Yield: 1 loaf, about 16 servings.


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  • star rating 04/21/2015
  • JoAnn from Hillsdale NJ
  • I made the bread as directed used coffee and brandy. It was good but not as good as other date nut breads that I have made. I like a strong date taste but I think the coffee and brandy took away from the taste of the dates. Its not like the old fashion breads that I remember.
    Thanks for your frank review of this recipe, JoAnn. We're glad you gave this recipe a try and hope you find an old-fashioned recipe that meets both your taste preferences and memory for date nut bread. Happy Baking! Irene@KAF
  • star rating 03/16/2015
  • John C from Northern New Jersey
  • I followed the recipe and preparations exactly as described and the bread turned out perfectly. It is light in texture and dark in color just as our expectation for the appearance of a traditional Date Nut Bread. Unlike many recipes, this one includes butter, so the shelf life for this bread should be good. One consideration before making this recipe would be the color of the loaf pan you will use. Most non-stick pans sold in the north east seem to be a dark color. Since dark color pans baking sheets etc absorb more heat and get hotter than light colored pans, the baking temperature should be reduced when using a dark loaf pan. One question for the team at King Arthur about the chemistry of the baking soda and hot coffee: does pouring hot coffee over the baking soda in step 1 cause the baking soda to release carbon dioxide before the batter gets in the oven?

    John, you're right that when liquid comes in contact with baking soda, it begins to release carbon dioxide, which neutralizes the leaving acid and helps the baked good to rise in the oven. However, the reason why this recipe calls for pouring the hot coffee over the first five ingredients is so that the dates can soak up some of the moisture and flavor in the liquid. This will render them perfectly soft and chewy when incorporated into the bread. We're so glad you loved this recipe. Happy baking! --Kye@KAF

  • star rating 01/24/2015
  • from
  • This recipe is delicious! I wouldn't omit or change any of the ingrediants. It reminds me of the date-nut bread my gran made when I was a child (circa 1952).
  • star rating 12/27/2014
  • Pat from Towaco, NJ
  • I made this recipe and it was fantastic. I omitted the alchohol and didn't tent with foil until the last 15 minutes. Will definitely make this again.
  • star rating 11/10/2014
  • Cheryl Mabra from Madison, Wisconsin
  • I made this recipe for the first time and it's fabulous! I used the lesser amt of brown sugar, and brandy for the liquor. Everyone in my family loved it. I baked it in my King Arthur Tea loaf pan. I kept it in for 60 minutes and it was perfect.
  • star rating 10/11/2014
  • Cassie from Iowa
  • I made this recipe as written, with the exception of baking about 10 minutes longer than stated. It's delicious and gave my husband warm childhood memories. I'd never thought of using coffee for liquid, but it added that richness and rounded out this recipe nicely. I could not taste the alcohol I added. I would not change a thing!
  • star rating 08/20/2014
  • Joe from Howell, NJ
  • This is the best Date Nut Bread recipe I've found. Most other recipes I've tried either don't have enough dates or are too dry. Here's some information that may help others as well. A while ago I found I have a sensitivity to wheat, not good for a bread lover. I've made this bread both with wheat flour and with the KA "Make Your Own Blend" of rice flour, tapioca starch and potato starch. It is almost as good in the wheat free version. I use the exact amount of the rice flour blend as specified in the recipe and add 1 tablespoon of Xantham Gum. It doesn't rise quite so much but the flavor and texture are very good. I've also found that this recipe works in my bread machine on the batter bread cycle. It does need an extra 30 minutes or so on bake only once the cycle ends but it comes out fine. It even seems a little more evenly baked from the machine. No need to tent it part way through to keep it from getting too dark.
  • star rating 08/19/2014
  • Elizabeth Palmer from KAF Community
  • Always looking for quick bread recipes, and had the ingredients on hand for this one. With the exception of using dark rum, I followed the recipe to the "T" and it turned out very well: moist, dense. Like the fact that it only contains 4 T of butter, and 2/3 cup of brown sugar was plenty for my taste.
  • star rating 08/16/2014
  • Sharon from Cortland, NY
  • This is a fantastic recipe. The result is a chewy, satisfying bread that is not only delicious, but lasts an incredibly long time if kept in the refrigerator (that is, if you can portion yourself to make it last)! I happen to love the addition of the brandy and the coffee, it gives a subtle dimension to the flavors, though I couldn't identify them as such in the final product. This is one of my favorite things for breakfast, topped with softened cream cheese and a hot cup of coffee. Good stuff!
  • star rating 04/25/2014
  • veggielover from New Jersey
  • I think this could be a really good recipe with some modifications. First, I would definitely leave out the alcohol. I didn't have any brandy and I thought vodka might give it a bitter taste, so I used rum. The fact that I could taste the alcohol was very disappointing especially since I hate the taste of alcohol and it says in the recipe that the alcohol was included to boost the flavor. I have cooked with alcohol on the stove-top and in those recipes, you don't taste the alcohol, like in Penne with Vodka Sauce. So the alcohol needs to be left out. I had to cook it longer as well - an extra 10 minutes. It was very moist inside but at least it was not doughy. I used some regular coffee which I guess was okay - I didn't know what to substitute for that - I thought water might make it too bland. I have to see what they use in other recipes. Other than that, this was my first time making date nut bread and it wasn't that bad (except for the alcohol).
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