Traditional Libyan food is based around Mediterranean, African and Middle Eastern flavors in the form of tajines, couscous, salads, vegetables, bread, and soup. Moving further into the desert, natives rely on milk, honey, bread and dates for sustenance and, so today’s I rely on at least two of the above to get me through the day.
I’ve really enjoyed the other breakfast-y type sweet breads I’ve made so far (see plum bread and orange cake), and when I came across this recipe for a fig-date bread, I was pretty confident I’d love it. And I was right. Despite having the dried fruit, it does not at all come across as either fruit cake or anything like raisin bread. My mom is obsessed with this cranberry walnut bread from Whole Foods, and this reminded me a lot of that, both in taste and in texture, but better (in my humble opinion).
I can’t recall where I found the original recipe, but I made enough tweaks to it to call this one my own. I’ve health-i-fied it a bit, using whole wheat flour and cutting down on the sugar, and as Tomato shoved more than once slice in her mouth while mumbling a barely-discernible “Iss guud,” I figured it really didn’t make any difference.
1 cup chopped, pitted dried dates
1 cup dried figs
2 TB butter
1 ½ tsp baking soda
1 cup boiling water
2 TB plain yogurt
¼ cup white sugar
½ cup chopped walnuts
1 ½ cups whole wheat flour (or you could do ¾ cup all-purpose flour plus ¾ cup whole wheat flour)
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. In a medium bowl, combine the dates, figs, butter and baking soda. Pour in the boiling water, stir well and let sit for 15 minutes.
3. Once the date mixture has set, beat the sugar, eggs, yogurt, and walnuts into it.
4. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt and stir into the date mixture until well blended. Do not overbeat.
5. Pour into a buttered and sugared loaf pan.
5. Bake for 50-60 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean. After about 10 minutes, turn out onto a wire rack to cool.
Check out this site for more Libyan goodies.