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Date Nut Bread with Butterscotch Sauce

Date Nut Bread
by Dennis Weaver

This recipe can really be anything that you want. Don't like dates? That's okay -- use raisins or dried apples. Think of it as method, not just a recipe. What really makes this unique is that it's made without an oven. You can take it backpacking, to the campground, or use it in your RV. Make it up as a mix before you leave home. You'll find this a convenient and tasty addition to your road food arsenal.

We made the following bread on the grill on the back deck at our home in Idaho, but it could have been made at 10,000 feet in the mountains. I couldn't find my juice cans, but no matter. I just used a pan small enough to fit into a larger pan. We have made a very similar recipe at 10,000 feet over a campfire in the Wind River Mountains of Wyoming. Outdoor food never tasted so good.

You can mix and match fruits and nuts in this recipe. You can even use fresh fruit, though you need to reduce the liquid with fresh fruit. Be sure and use juice, not water or milk, in this recipe. The acidic juice reacts chemically with the alkaline baking soda to cause the leavening of the product.

Date Nut Bread with Butterscotch Sauce


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup orange juice, mango juice, or apricot nectar from a can, fresh, or from concentrate
1 1/2 to 2 cups chopped dates, raisins, prunes, or other dried fruit
1/2 cup chopped nuts

Butterscotch Sauce

3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup dry milk (or omit the water and dry milk and use 1/2 cup fresh milk)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla


Tie foil with string

Raise smaller pan with stones


"I made this recipe last weekend for a party. It worked exactly as described, and it was delicious! I'm thinking that next time I might marinate the loaf in spiced rum or some other liqueur..."

1. In a medium bowl, combine the dry ingredients. (If you are taking this on the road, combine these ingredients in a plastic bag before leaving home.)

2. Stir in the juice until just combined. Stir in the fruit and nuts.

3. Pack the dough into a well-greased large can or other cooking container. Cover the top with heavy foil and tie it securely with string.

4. Place the can on pebbles in a large pan or kettle. Fill the pan with water and set it to simmer. Let the pan simmer for 2 hours, adding water as necessary. When done, invert the bread onto a plate and slice to serve.

5. For the butterscotch sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the sugar and cornstarch and stir. Then stir the water and dry milk together and add to the pan. Cook and stir until thick and bubbly, about five minutes at low heat. Add the vanilla. Serve hot or cold over the nut bread. (If you would like to mix this up ahead of time, put the dry ingredients in a plastic bag and pour the vanilla onto the brown sugar. When you make the sauce, melt the butter, add the dry ingredients, and then the water.)

Why it Works

Heat sets the bread/cake by coagulating the proteins in any egg you may add or gelatinizing the starches in the flour. Placing the pan or can on stones in a larger pan is simply a make-shift double boiler. The double boiler controls the temperature, submersing the bread in boiling water without concentrating heat on the bottom of the pan that would scorch the product. The tied foil over the pan contains the steam. As long as water remains in the pan, it is hard to burn the bread.


Dennis WeaverDennis Weaver -- having burnt food from Miami, Florida to Point Barrow, Alaska -- is RTA's road food expert. He has logged thousands of hours on the roads, trails, and waterways of America including many of Alaska's wilderness rivers and has consistently been elected the trips' "chief cook and bottle washer." Dennis is currently general manager at The Prepared Pantry, a company in Rigby, Idaho, that produces ready-to-eat meals and baking mixes packaged in Mylar. Weatherproof, bug-proof, and critter resistant, they're ideal for both roadtrips and back woods camping. Dennis may be reached at

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