Orange-Scented Pecan and Date Bread

My husband had recently been dropping hints about date nut bread after discovering an index card from his mother with a hand-written recipe. She is a foodie so I was game but it was a recipe from another time that called for shortening and where vanilla extract seemed to be the only flavoring. I came upon a Date Nut Spice Bread recipe from Ina Garten and made a few adjustments (mainly dialing down the alcohol in the date soak and the flavored cream cheese). I actually really like toasting a slice so the sugar caramelizes a bit and then slathering a healthy slab of plain cream cheese.


  • 2 cups coarsely chopped dates (10 ounces pitted)
  • 3 tablespoons orange liqueur + 3 tablespoons orange juice
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange zest
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 3 ounces or 3/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 by 2 1/2-inch loaf pan, and line the bottom with parchment paper.

Combine the dates, orange liqueur and 3 tablespoons orange juice in a small bowl and set aside until dates have softened. Stir occasionally.

In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt.

Using a mixer, beat the butter and brown sugar until creamy and fluffy. Scrape down the bowl. With the mixer on low, add the egg, vanilla, and orange zest.

Next, alternately add the flour mixture and orange juice until combined. Stir in the dates along with the liquid and the pecans.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and smooth the top. Bake 50 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.