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  • Writer's pictureAnnabelle White

The Power of Baking

Updated: Mar 4, 2021

This is a great story involving an Anglican Vicar, a former scientist and a diplomat and the result – one delicious date loaf for you!

Let me explain – a few weeks back I was at the local Anglican Church Fair and I saw this very appealing date loaf on the baking stand.

Buying it with enthusiasm ( “support local” ringing in my head) I went home and sliced it up for the family and everyone was groaning with delight. “So good, so moist and no need for butter…. wow”.

After 30 years of collecting recipes, I knew I had a job to do – I had to find this great recipe and as quickly as possible before the Church fair organisers forget who bought what on the day.

So a call was made to the Vicar Jordan Greatbatch of the Anglican All Saints - could he help me find the right person to talk to?

After a few minutes of delightful conversation when he easily could have said “lady, really should I be bothered?” he gave me the name of well-known local resident Colleen Stott as being the right person to talk to “she would know who it was “.

Yes, she was the key person, but there were three possible home bakers (including herself) but after careful discussion (and not wanting to upset anyone) about the ingredients in the loaf, it was identified as being the work of Jean Green, a former scientist, her very good friend and keen home baker.

The Vicar even followed through at the next Church meeting to ensure the recipe was found for the “crazy lady who loves dates” and after a call to Jean she slipped the recipe into my letterbox.

“I’m not much of a cook” she says “ but I like baking and this is a great recipe – always works” and with her scientific background I knew she would be accurate.

Later that day I was talking on the phone to my friend Sue Donegan, (wife of the former US Consul General Jim Donegan who was based in Wellington a few years back) – telling her about my investigative work re the date loaf – and she said “can I have the recipe? It sounds delicious…good to try something new.”

Sue Donegan's Date loaf

Well, not only did she make it (photos attached) they loved it – she sent most of it into the US State Department to enjoy the next day

So I love this story – one Church Fair, baking to raise funds, a kindly Vicar, and two helpful local ladies and a US diplomat and one great date loaf for the US State Department and now you!

Ok a simple story, but now you know the background. It’s like a game of Cluedo – a Vicar, a diplomat and Mrs Green (not Mrs White) in the kitchen.

When you make it don’t be tempted to change the lower baking temperature – it’s the key to this moist result!


11/2 cup dates, cut each date into 3 or 4 pieces

11/8 cups boiling water

1 tsp baking soda

2/3 cup brown sugar

1 TBsp butter

1 egg, beaten

1 tsp vanilla

pinch of salt

11/2 cups flour

1 tsp baking powder


Put cut dates in a bowl, add boiling water and stir in baking soda.

Add sugar, butter and mix well and then allow to cool.

When it has cooled preheat oven to 140-150 deg C .

Stir in beaten egg and vanilla.

Lastly add sifted salt, flour and baking powder.

Pour into a 21cmx11cm greased and lined loaf tin.

Bake for approximately 11/2 hours (check with a skewer runs clean)

Cooks notes: Jean just used supermarket Camel dates which she cut into 3 or 4 small pieces.

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