For the Third Sunday of Advent, Enjoy Bishop O’Connell’s Date Nut Bread

As you know by now, it’s the habit at our house to enjoy something sweet and tasty after we’ve said our Advent Sunday prayers and lit the candles on the wreath. This week, Keeping the Feast has something very special on the menu: Bishop David O’Connell’s Date Nut Bread.

When we asked if he had a Christmas recipe to share, Bishop O’Connell responded with a treasure of a recipe and the tale to go with it:

“One of my favorite treats has always been ‘date nut bread,”  the bishop wrote. ” After all the cookies and goodies were baked, right before Christmas, my mother would make dark date nut bread. It was so good! She would wrap it up in aluminum foil and put it into the refrigerator. During the Christmas holidays, usually late at night, my Mom and I would have a cup of coffee or tea and a slice or two of her ‘specialty.’  She loved Philadelphia Cream Cheese on her slices but I preferred a slice of white American cheese on mine. So delicious!!! In more recent years, I have taken the task over from her.

I even competed with my oldest brother, Artie, to see who makes the date nut bread most like Mom’s! I won…but to be honest, nothing ever tastes as good as when Mom made it! Here’s a recipe I have used:

Dark Date Nut Bread

Ingredients: 1 cup hot water; 1 cup cold water; 1 cup dates, chopped; 4 cups flour; 2 tsp. baking soda; 1 tsp. salt; 1/2 cup butter; 1 cup white sugar; 1 cup brown sugar; 2 eggs, beaten until creamy and thick; 1 tsp. vanilla; 1 cup walnuts, broken in large pieces.

Directions: Pour hot water over the dates, then pour cold water over them. Stir and let stand to cool. In a bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda and salt. In a separate, large  bowl, cream together the butter and sugars; add the beaten eggs and vanilla. Stir in half the flour mixture. Stir into the batter the date mixture and the walnuts and then add the other half of the flour mixture. Spoon the batter into two, well greased loaf pans. Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour or until the bread tests as done.

“Give it a try…and Merry Christmas,” said Bishop O’Connell.


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