Reader Veronica Rodriguez of Sherman Oaks can't get enough of the date nut slices at Lodge Bread in Culver City, generous squares of cake studded with chopped dates and nuts, not too sweet and with just the right hints of orange and vanilla. "To me, it looks like a great brownie but with no chocolate," she writes. "It's to die for — so delish!"
Lodge Bread was happy to share the recipe. "We feature dates on a lot of menu items here at Lodge," says Alexander Phaneuf, who co-owns the bakery with Or Amsalam. "We both have a love of dates. I grew up in the Coachella Valley and have so many fond memories of playing in the date fields as a kid and eating a lot of dates." After tossing around a number of ideas, the pair tasked pastry chef Julia Webb with creating a date cake. "It's been on the menu a long time, and we can't take it off. It's super popular," he says.
LODGE BREAD'S DATE NUT SLICES
About 1 hour, 20 minutes, plus baking time. Makes 12 to 16 slices
1 2/3 cups (7 ounces) all-purpose flour
1/3 cup (1.8 ounces) whole wheat or stone-ground flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon orange zest
1 1/3 cups (9.9 ounces) granulated sugar
Scant 1 cup (7 ounces) brown sugar
1 pound butter, softened
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups dates, chopped
1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 13-by 9-inch baking pan and line with parchment. Grease the parchment and set aside.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder and soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, rub the orange zest into the granulated sugar.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer using the paddle attachment, cream both sugars and the butter until light and airy, 3 to 5 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until fully incorporated, scraping down the sides after each addition. Beat in the vanilla.
4. Add the dry ingredients in 2 additions, scraping down the sides, and mixing until completely combined. Stir in the dates and nuts.
5. Spoon the batter into the pan, spreading it evenly. Bake until set in the middle, about 1 hour, rotating halfway through for even baking. Cool before slicing.
Each of 16 servings: Calories 540; Protein 6 grams; Carbohydrates 57 grams; Fiber 3 grams; Fat 34 grams; Saturated fat 16 grams; Cholesterol 107 mg; Sugar 42 grams; Sodium 280 mg
Note: Adapted from a recipe provided by Lodge Bakery in Culver City; the recipe was inspired by a family recipe from former Lodge pastry chef Jacqui de Borja.