I have discovered a life changing thing. Palm Dates.
Yes, palm dates.
I discovered last week that when palm dates are pureed and added to a recipe you can dramatically reduce or even eliminate all other sweeteners in the recipe. I had heard this before, but had been skeptical (as you might be now), but then I had a pie last week that used only palm dates as a sweetener, and it was delicious. Bananas are often used in place of sweeteners, but they make things taste, well…banana-y. The dates don’t have a strong flavor on their own, so they mostly just add the sweetness without any unwanted flavor. I’m now a palm date convert, and am super, inordinately, ridiculously excited about it.
This is momentous, people!
So, of course, I immediately started thinking of what I could do with this new knowledge. Banana bread immediately came to mind, because I love a sweet banana bread, and I’m thinking that between the sweetness of almost-rotten-bananas and the dates, it will be plenty sweet without anything else.
Alas, I have no almost-rotten-bananas to experiment with right now, though, so I had to settle for something else. Since I just got two pie pumpkins in my CSA share, pumpkin bread was the obvious choice. And…oh my goodness…it was WONDERFUL.
I know, I know, I just posted a Soaked Oat Pumpkin Cake recently. That’s still good…but this one is better. Like…way, way better. The flavor is perfectly spicy and doesn’t have that buttermilk bite to it like the other recipe does (I like that flavor, but I know others do not). The texture is light, fine, and slightly crumbly and really tender and moist. It’s perfect. It also takes less planning since you don’t have to soak the oats overnight, and is grain (thus gluten) free! On top of that, it uses over half less added sweetener, so is much healthier. So – if you have to choose just one pumpkin bread/cake/dessert? This is the one. Not only is it healthier, but you’ll swear you’re eating the “real” thing!
Trust me – I wouldn’t steer you wrong!
Now, I did add a little sweetener to this – even with the date puree – because I was worried that the pumpkin wouldn’t be sweet enough, but it turned out so great that I’m going to experiment with ALL date puree next time and no sweetener. I’ll let you know how it works out!
Also, I used buckwheat flour as well as almond flour. Buckwheat flour is WAY cheaper than almond flour, so that’s why I’ve been using it lately. It’s actually not a wheat at all – it’s not even a grain – and so is perfectly safe for gluten and wheat sensitive people! Buckwheat flour can also be found in just about any store, so it’s much easier to find than almond flour. Just store in the freezer after you buy it.
(This will probably work with all buckwheat flour if you don’t have almond flour, but I haven’t tested that yet to be sure. Theoretically it should be fine, though!)
After you have your dates ready, combine 1/2 cup softened butter or coconut oil with 1/4 cup palm sugar and 3 Tbsp real maple syrup (for the flavor). This is all the sweetener you’ll use! Then add the date puree, eggs, pumpkin, and spices and beat until completely combined.
(As I said, I used the pie pumpkins I got with our CSA to make this cake, but you can of course use canned pumpkin. If you do want to prepare your own pumpkin, though, it’s easy. Take a pie pumpkin and put it in the oven while it preheats. Take it out once it’s heated – or after about 5 minutes. This is to make it easier to cut. Cut off the stem, and then cut it in half and remove the seeds. Put the halves cut side down on a foil lined baking sheet and bake for 30-45 minutes, or until a fork easily pierces the thickest part. Let them cool, and then peel the skin off – it’ll slip right off. Mash the pumpkin until smooth. That’s it!)
In a separate bowl mix together all the dry ingredients, and then mix it in with the wet. Grease an 8×8 glass baking dish with butter or coconut oil and pour in the batter. It will be fairly thick. The reason you make this in a 8×8 pan and not a loaf pan is that non-gluten flours don’t rise very well in loaf pans. Baking it this way ensures it all gets evenly done!
Let it bake for 50 minutes, or until the center springs back when pressed. A knife inserted in the middle should be very hot to the touch when it comes out.
Let it cool, and then slice it up! Both my kids scarfed it down. They both agree that this is better than the Oat Cake (although they did like that too.) My daughter gave it two thumbs up!
(See those bananas in the background? Those are the ones I’m waiting to go bad so that I can try out the sweetener-free banana bread. Rot, bananas, rot!)
If you want to experiment with all date puree, go ahead! It probably won’t be as sweet as this, but I think it would still be good!
Date Sweetened Pumpkin Bread Cake
- 1/2 cup coconut oil or softened butter
- 1/4 cup palm sugar
- 3 Tbsp real maple syrup (for flavor)
- 1 cup date puree
- 1 cup cooked, pureed pumpkin or butternut squash (from a can is fine)
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup buckwheat flour
- 1/2 cup almond flour (can probably use all buckwheat flour if you don’t have almond flour!)
- 1/2 tsp ground cloves
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp ginger
- 1/4 tsp ground allspice
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
In a mixing bowl combine the coconut oil or softened butter with the palm sugar and maple syrup, and then mix in the pumpkin, date puree, eggs and spices. Mix until completely combined. Put in the flour, and then put the baking soda, baking powder, and salt on top of the flour. Mix it all together thoroughly. Pour into an 8×8 pan that’s been greased with butter or coconut oil. Bake for 50 minutes, or until the middle springs back when pressed with your finger.