Mark your calendar, today’s date is important. Today’s date, in fact, is front and center and baked into bread. September 8 is National Date Nut Bread Day!
In yet another weird twist, December 22 is also devoted to date nut bread. I checked, I double-checked, and then I double-checked again. ‘Tis true. We pay homage to date nut bread twice this year. By then we’ll be steaming down the home stretch, so I probably won’t complain too bitterly that “we’ve already done this holiday!”
The word date is derived from dáktulos, the Greek word for finger. So the next time somebody cuts you off in traffic, give ’em the ol’ dáktulos! They were named for their resemblance to a finger, actually – though that’s a pretty shriveled-looking fat finger, if you ask me. Dates “date” back thousands of years, and were an important staple food for those in the Middle East. Evidence of their existence dates back to as far as 7000 B.C. Wow, were there even people around then? In fact, dates are mentioned more than 50 times in the Bible. They grow on palm trees and ripen in four stages: kimri (unripe), khlal (full-size, crunchy), rutab (ripe, soft), tamr (ripe, sun-dried). They favor warm climates and grow abundantly in regions such as the Middle East, Africa, California, and Arizona.
It’s unclear who first thought of combining dates and nuts into a loaf of bread and baking it, but we’re glad they did – it’s a tasty, slightly sweet and crunchy treat. I used this recipe and baked it up myself. We were both very impressed!