The perfect date loaf recipe

Image description: a sliced loaf cake next to some butter and milk

Friends are wonderful things to have in life, for several obvious reasons I won’t bother going into. Over time, you start to share things with them – memories, secrets, and maybe even clothes. However, perhaps a lesser known, but arguably equally important, benefit of spending copious amounts of quality time with the same people in your life again and again is this simple possibility: they may gradually share recipes with you. Recipes have a particular dualism in their nature: they could either be completely unremarkable, run-of-the-mill, pulled off of BBC Good Foods without a second thought, or they could carry the most heartfelt, sentimental, passed-down-for-generations recipe ever seen on earth.

This is all a very dramatic way of saying that one of my best friends recently considered me close enough to impart her date loaf recipe to me and I have never felt more loved. I present to you: the perfect (and extremely easy) procrastination activity. The steps are so minimal, you will be almost guaranteed to feel satisfied with your results and efforts at avoiding that essay. Being a cake baked in a loaf tin, it makes for uber-convenient slicing, perfect for a mid-library or pre-lecture-walk snack. It also somehow makes it feel more acceptable to eat for breakfast, which is always a bonus.



8oz pitted dates

1 cup of boiling water

2 cups self-rising flour (or alternatively use plain flour with some baking powder)

1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda

1 cup of brown sugar

2oz margarine (room temperature)



  1. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees. To complete the preparation, pre-ingredients stage, line a loaf tin with grease-proof baking paper. (Owning a loaf tin will infinitely improve your life because it immediately opens up the glorious window of opportunity that is being able to make banana bread and, of course, a date loaf.) If your margarine or butter isn’t already room-temperature, let this be a kind reminder to soften it slightly beforehand – I much prefer this to whacking it in the microwave because it’s so easy to overdo it and completely ruin the consistency.
  2. Chop the dates and soak them in the boiling water. Leave aside in a bowl or pan.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, bicarbonate of soda, and sugar. Rub in the margarine until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
  4. Add the now-softened dates to the mixture and mix well.
  5. Pour into the tin. Bake for one hour in the oven at 160 degrees, or until a skewer can be inserted and come out clean.
  6. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin.
  7. Dig in.


The result should be a reminder of the beauty of friendship as well as a glorious date loaf that smells absolutely divine with a lovely crust (paraphrasing said friend). If you’re feeling frisky, feel free to add in some chopped walnuts to the mix or to slather a slice with cream cheese when done. I hope this recipe arrived at your wandering eyes at a time you were contemplating doing a quick trip to Tesco to needlessly buy snacks solely to have an excuse not to start your next reading. This is your sign to do it. Bake some date loaf right now and be the talk of the town (or at least, your corridor and anyone walking past your open kitchen window).

Image credit: Whitney Wright via Unsplash