Cranberry and Date Breakfast Loaf

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This Cranberry and Date Breakfast Loaf really is a proper breakfast bread – a cross between a cake loaf and a fruit bread. It makes a fabulous weekend treat and is blissful served with orange whipped cream cheese spread generously on top. Munching on a slice of this whilst sipping juice, pouring out tea and flicking through a magazine makes for an ideal morning. If you’re hosting a brunch, I’d simply serve a fruit salad alongside and make sure there was a choice between plenty of hot coffee or tea.

I’ve adapted my recipe from one by the fabulous Barefoot Contessa – I love cranberries, and I think they make a really nice addition to this loaf, but if you wish you could leave them out.

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Cranberry and Date Breakfast Loaf

Ingredients:

200g coarsely chopped pitted dates
75g dried cranberries
1/3 cup orange liqueur
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
1 extra-large (in US, large in UK)egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon grated orange zest (from 2 oranges)
1 cup plain flour
1 cup wholemeal flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (approx. 2 large oranges)
75g coarsely chopped pecans
6 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon grated orange zest

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

2/ Combine the dates, dried cranberries and orange liqueur in a small bowl and set aside for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally.

3/ In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and brown sugar together on medium speed for 1 minute. Scrape down the bowl.

4/ With the mixer on low, add the egg, vanilla, and orange zest. Whisk together the flours, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt to combine. With the mixer still on low, add the flour mixture alternately with the orange juice to the creamed mixture, beating only until combined. By hand, stir in the dates and cranberries with their liquid, and the pecans.

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

6/ Meanwhile, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the cream cheese, sugar, and orange zest on medium speed until just combined.

7/ Slice the bread and serve with the orange cream cheese on the side for spreading.

Bread and cream cheese store brilliantly in the fridge for several days if it lasts that long!

What are your favourite brunch treats? I do hope you enjoy this recipe if you give it a go!

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