Every once in a while I have a hankering for something earthy, earnest and comforting like this loaf. Rich, dense and moist, it is the perfect late Sunday morning treat to enjoy with a cup of coffee, but also packs well for lunchboxes and keeps nicely in the tin for up to 4 days.
2 cups dates, pitted and halved
2 cups boiling water
1 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup golden syrup
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 cups plain flour
1 cup bran
1/2 cup sultanas
1 cup walnuts, very roughly chopped (optional)
27x15cm loaf tin, lined and greased (or 2 smaller tins, or a 20cm square tin)
Preheat the oven to 170˚C (335˚F)
Put dates in a big pot. Cover with boiling water and add butter, sugar and golden syrup. Bring to the boil, stirring to combine. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat, add baking soda (love that foamy bit) and leave to cool for 10 minutes.
Put flour, bran, sultanas and walnuts into a big bowl. Add egg to melted mixture, whisk in, then pour into flour and mix well. Spoon into prepared tin and smooth top. Bake 40-45 minutes or until cooked through when tested with a skewer. Leave to cool in tin for 15 minutes before turning out to cool.