I absolutely love cooking with my friend Kris. Not only is she one of my dearest friends and amongst the most generous people I know; she is a phenomenal vegetarian cook. Kris and I met when we were in a play together for Ranters Theatre over 13 years ago, and we have been breaking gluten free bread with love ever since. Beth and Zoe were also in the play, and we have all been kindred spirits ever since, having regular lunches and dinners throughout the year as a group. One of the most wonderful things about our friendships is that we are all obsessed whole foodies; and all three of these ladies are absolutely incredible vegetarian cooks. So, needless to say, there is always something delicious on the table. I will celebrate Zoe later this year when I post some of her unbelievable gluten free cake recipes. Bethy has had a few mentions with the lemon asparagus soup and the roasted sweet potato macadamia soup. But today it is all about Kris.
Kris is now a Shiatsu practitioner, and has taught me so much about Chinese holistic principles. Her passion for cooking with whole foods is a constant source of inspiration to me; as is her unending passionate experimentation with international cuisines and her knowledge and experience with exotic ingredients. I am always calling to get her opinion on a trial recipe idea, and she always comes to the party with fantastic suggestions that never fail to impress. She introduced me to the wonderful world of coconut sugar, and rose water -- which is what we will be celebrating today.
Kris made this incredible gluten free date and walnut loaf for a lunch with Beth and Zoe some time ago that she had clipped from the from the November 2007 edition of the fabulous Australian Magazine “Delicious”. We were happy little snouts, polishing off the whole gluten free sweet bread in one sitting! We were all devastated when Kris mislaid her beloved photocopy of this treasured vegetarian recipe. Thankfully, the folks at Delicious Magazine were only too happy to search through their archives and send her another copy; which she promptly forwarded onto me. Now I can share this unbelievable gluten free date and walnut loaf with you, so that you might have a taste of our girly lunch. In true “Kris style” (she is not fond of following recipes) she has made this recipe her own, and added in a generous drop or two of rose water, which turns this already spectacular gluten free sweet bread into a sublime creation just begging to be devoured.
Those of you unfamiliar with rose water -- it is the liquid that is left when roses and water are distilled to make rose oil. Most of us are familiar with rose oil as a welcome ingredient in fragrances, bath, and skin care products. Try using rose water mixed with filtered water for a fantastic natural toner. It is amazing! For culinary purposes, rose water has been used in Middle Eastern and Asian cuisines with spectacular results for many years. Whenever I smell rose water, I immediately start salivating for traditional Turkish Delight. Oh Yum! Rose water can be found at health food stores, Middle Eastern grocers, and exotic food shops. Try to find 100% pure rose water. Some are blends of 80% rose water, 20% water and natural flavouring. Do not buy rose syrup, which is loaded with refined sugar, citric acid, colouring and flavouring. I found 100% pure rose water at the famous A1 bakery and Middle Eastern grocer around the corner from Kris. Rose water is so wonderfully fragrant, that Kris wisely encouraged me to add it into baked goods, puddings and other sweet treats as an ingenious way to reduce the sweetener required. I have to say, it is a top tip, and I have been grabbing for the rose water ever since and serving up s’blended rosy treats to happy snouts far and wide. If any of you have any fantastic recipes for rosewater let me know!
Kris and I whipped up this gluten free date and walnut loaf last week and took some around to Beth and Zoe for lunch. We all unanimously approved -- once again, polishing off the whole gluten free sweet bread in one sitting. The recipe calls for you to grease your baking tin with walnut oil. Whilst this does add an incredible flavour to the loaf, it is not absolutely essential if you don’t want to fork out the rather hefty price for walnut oil just for this recipe. I have also listed the rose water as optional. The original recipe did not have it, and this date and walnut loaf tastes wonderful without it. But I really think Kris is onto something and it adds a touch of magic to this. Try some recipes using rosewater and you will not be sorry!
Rice flour makes this gluten free sweet bread really light, which is wonderful. But I have added an additional buckwheat flour mix that works well if you want a gluten free bread that has a bit more nutritional value. This version is a little bit more dense and browns on the top more quickly. You might have to cover with foil for the last fifteen minutes cooking time. A note about this gluten free date and walnut bread -- you can reduce the sweetener and make it more savoury. It does not have to be as decadent as we have made it here. I prefer it sweet served with a slather of butter. But this date and walnut loaf is incredibly versatile. Kris serves it up as a wonderful accompaniment with cheese and fruit paste. Either way, this loaf is absolutely incredible and not to be missed. For those of you looking for gluten and sugar free recipes this is a winner! This gluten free sugar free recipe is also dairy free and soy free, and can be made quickly in your stand mixer. This gluten free date and walnut loaf is so incredible I just cannot do it justice. This recipe is a stunner, and not to be missed!
Thanks Kris – I love you!