The October/November pick for the Cook the Books Club was Jessica Soffer’s Tomorrow There Will Be Apricots.
I had very mixed feelings about this book. It was well written enough for me to stay engaged and read it to the end, largely because I connected to the main character, Lorca, though throughout the book, I really, really found myself disliking her mother and her absolutely blase disregard for her daughter’s desperate need for her love. Full disclosure here – in another not too long ago life, I worked very closely with populations of both adults and young adults who were highly at-risk and often engaged in very risky behaviors, of which self-mutilation was often the least of it. I think that’s why I struggled with this book so much – I know that it takes a lot of perseverance for someone to save themselves and few get so lucky to find a Victoria, the other main character and a former restaurant owner, to help them.
Ok – now that that’s out there…the book was a feast of good food. After all, the entire focus is on how food can bring those who are desperately lonely together, and that particular theme resonates for me. I left the book with the feeling that food could transform Lorca’s life and make her into a resilient adult and that made me happy. It also made me happy to go flipping back through the book when I was done and think about what inspired me. I finally landed on a variation of date bread, because of this line of Victoria’s: “‘Date bread,’ I said. ‘From my country.’ Oldest trick in the book: bake something to make guests feel at home.” It is November, after all, and I’ve been in a baking mood. My pumpkin date bread relies on the flavors of the season with a good dose of pumpkin pie spice and pumpkin puree. The dates give it an extra punch of sweetness. It’s dense and chewy and goes really well with a cup of coffee in the afternoon.
This is also pretty easy to put together and makes a generous two loafs – perfect for having a loaf to eat now and one to freeze for later. Last, but not least, this is a low-fat pumpkin date bread, which gets much of its moist texture from unsweetened apple sauce and Greek yogurt.
Pumpkin Date Bread
Makes 2 loaves
3 1/2 cups unbleached flour
2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 cup white sugar
2 cups pumpkin puree (or 1 15 ounce can)
1 cup unsweetened apple sauce
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chopped dates
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Combine the dry ingredients, from the flour through the white sugar in a large bowl and mix. Combine the wet ingredients, from the pumpkin puree through the eggs in a small bowl and mix to incorporate all the ingredients. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, mixing just enough to incorporate all the dry ingredients. Add the dates.
Divide the batter between two bread pans that have either been buttered or that are lined with parchment paper.
Bake for 45 minutes or until a knife or skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Many thanks to Cook the Books Club – I’ve had so much fun developing recipes based on the last two challenges. I’m looking forward to more reading and cooking in the future!
I’ve also linked up with this month’s tea time treat challenge, which is all about comfort food (and what’s more comforting that fresh bread?). Check out the wonderful hosts of Tea Time Treats: Lavender and Lovage, Travels for Taste and Jo’s Kitchen. Lavender and Lovage is hosting this month, so be sure to check out all the recipes for Tea Time Treats here.