Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Chai Date Bread

Another thing... I've been experimenting with steeped tea as the liquid in recipes and have come up with a few winners. Tea, especially flavored varieties, adds a delicate je nes sais quoi to baked goods that I find irresistible. Chai is fun to bake with because the spices in the tea lend themselves well to familiar baking ingredients, but the tea flavor is present. I once tried a mango chai tea in muffins with snipped pieces of dried mangoes in the batter. Unbelievable.

We drink quite a bit of tea at home, and prefer it English style, sweet and milky. Unfortunately, some of the herbal teas we bought cause the milk to curdle. When this happens the tea is relegated to the "brewed iced tea" shelf, and it makes great iced tea. (And preferred over Koolaid by the junior members of our household.) This winter the iced tea shelf still has several unopened boxes sitting on it and sorry, if it's cold out, I'm not in the mood for iced tea. It's been really cold this winter. The tea awaits.

But - the idea to bake with tea came up and problem solved: We warm the kitchen by baking, we get homemade warm treats to eat, and the tea gets used up before it gets old. The trick when baking with tea is to brew double or triple strength so the flavor can be detected in the bakery. And if a recipe calls for milk, not water, just add 1/3 cup of powdered milk to every cup of liquid tea and you've got your milk.

Here's a recipe for Chai Date Bread:
This recipe is simple and delicious. Try it with other tea flavors.

1 1/2 cup chopped dates
1 1/4 c boiling water poured over 3 chai tea bags, steeped 2-3 minutes (to make strong tea)
2 Tbsp butter
1 beaten egg
2 c all purpose flour, sifted
1/3 c sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 325F, grease bread pan.

In a large bowl, pour the tea over the dates, add butter, and stir to combine. Let sit approx 15 minutes or until room temperature.

Stir in the beaten egg. Add the dry ingredients at once, stirring just until combined. Pour into greased bread pan and bake 1 hour or until toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out dry.

Let cool to room temperature. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap, then refrigerate overnight before slicing. If you can wait that long. You won't die if you slice it up and eat it all while it's still on the cooling rack. Just lean over the sink or counter so you don't drop crumbs on the floor.

Better yet, make a double batch and hide the second loaf as it cools so you can refrigerate it overnight before slicing. (It really does slice better if it sits in the fridge first.)

This recipe was first posted by Pam in the Plate Diaries at

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