Lightly adapted from Diana Henry's A Change of Appetite. (I've decreased the sugar slightly, made the half-whole wheat, half-white flour mixture all whole wheat, and added salt.) It's lovely immediately after it cools and equally lovely -- more complex, more dense -- a couple of days later. —Nicholas Day
dates, chopped and pitted
dried apricots, chopped
apple juice or cider
brown sugar, firmly packed
Zest of 1 orange
egg, lightly beaten
1 3/4 cups
whole-wheat flour (or white whole-wheat)
generous grating of nutmeg
hulled pumpkin seeds (pepitas), plus extra for the top
Melt the butter and leave it to cool. Put the dates and apricots in a saucepan with the apple juice or cider and add 3 to 4 tablespoons of water. Bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. The dates and apricots will cook down into almost a purée. Let it cool too.
Preheat the oven to 350° F. Butter a standard-size loaf pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.
Add the cooled butter to the date-apricot purée along with the sugar, orange zest, and egg. In another bowl, mix the flour with the baking powder, salt, allspice, nutmeg, walnuts, and pumpkin and sunflower seeds. Then add the wet mixture to the dry, stirring until the dough is combined but not overworked. Scrape the mixture into the loaf pan and sprinkle with the extra pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds.
Bake for approximately 75 minutes, or until a toothpick or a sharp knife in the middle comes out clean. Let the loaf rest for 10 minutes and then turn it out onto a rack and remove the paper from the bottom. Let cool.