Date Nut Bread – The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook Virtual Dinner Party

Posted on Mar 18 2012 - 5:15pm by RetroRuth

After the Peanut Butter Bread debacle of last week, I decided it was time to get back on the mid-century recipe horse and try quick bread again.  But which recipe? I dug through cookbooks. I flipped through magazines. I even got out my collection of recipe cards. I was stumped.

And then, Judy Gelman, one of the authors of The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook, emailed me and asked me to take part in their Virtual Mad Men Dinner Party. She explained that a bunch of blogs were going to cook out of The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook in anticipation of the Season 5 premiere on March 25th. This was fantastic news for me, since I thought it would be a great chance to share a recipe from this awesome book AND open our Mad Men Mania week on NPR with a bang! I was pumped! As a double bonus, it gave me the quick bread redemption I was looking for:


Date nut bread!!!

I love Mad Men, dates, vintage recipes AND Pat Nixon so it was…wait…


Pat Nixon??


Oh yes, everyone, this recipe for date nut bread is from that Pat Nixon, wife of Richard Nixon, before she became the First Lady. According to The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook, Pat Nixon shared this recipe with Heloise Bowles who published it in her famous “Hints From Heloise” column in 1961.


AND if this wasn’t enough recipe pedigree, the inclusion of this recipe in the book was inspired by the date nut bread made by Suzanne Ferrell in the Mad Men episode “The Color Blue”.  If you don’t recall Ms. Ferrell, she was a schoolteacher that Don had an affair with in Season 3. Oh Don, you crazy kid!


So, there you have it. An affair, a First Lady AND a great date nut bread recipe. What more can you ask for?

Oh yeah, you want to see Tom try it, don’t you?


Yeah, you do!


“You look so serious. Is it not any good??”

“I am serious. Serious about this bread being awesome. Put down that camera and go get me some butter.”

The Verdict: Delicious! Pat Nixon can apparently make Date Nut Bread with the best of them! The bread tasted slightly like my mom’s banana bread, which I consider to be one of the greatest quick breads in the known universe, so it totally passed the test. It was moist, had a great date flavor and wasn’t too sweet. Win!

4.0 from 3 reviews
Date Nut Bread - Adapted from Pat Nixon's Recipe
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
This famous date nut bread is from a 1961 "Hints From Heloise" column, and was submitted by Pat Nixon!
  • 8 ounces pitted dates, chopped into small pieces
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ¾ cup boiling water
  • 4 T butter
  • ¾ cup sugar (can sub 2T brown sugar)
  • 1 egg
  • 1¼ cups AP flour
  • ¾ cup chopped walnuts
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 8x4x2.5 inch loaf pan.
  2. Place dates in a large bowl. Add baking soda to boiling water and pour over dates in blow. Set aside and let mixture stand while mixing other ingredients.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar. Add the egg and mix well. Strain water from the date mixture into batter. Add flour and beat well. Add nuts, dates and vanilla and combine unitl all ingredients are well mixed.
  4. Pour the mixture into greased loaf pan. Bake for 50-60 mins, or until toothpick inserted in center of bread comes out clean.


*Speaking of Mad Men Mania Week, head by No Pattern Required tomorrow (3/19) for a chance to win your very own copy of The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook!


Want to see what everyone else made for the Virtual Mad Men Dinner Party?  Check it out here:


And be sure to join everyone on Twitter today (3/18) at 8:00 pm Eastern to join in the discussion about the Dinner Party! Use the hash tag #PartyLikeaMadMan to join in the conversation!

This copy of The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook was provided by the publisher at no cost to me, and I was not compensated for this review. It was just all good fun!

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I love everything retro, vintage, mid-century, kitsch and all things atomic! A 21st century housewife just trying to fit the 50's. I have a passion for vintage recipes and an enormous vintage cookbook collection that I keep testing, even though by now I should know better. Creator of Mid-Century Menu (, No Pattern Required (, and I Ate The 80's (

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15 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. Sara In AZ March 19, 2012 at 10:35 am - Reply

    Yay!!!! Good bread this time, go Pat Nixon!!! 🙂

  2. veg-o-matic March 22, 2012 at 10:56 am - Reply

    From now on, whenever someone starts taking pictures I’m going to say “Put down that camera and go get me some butter.”

    • RetroRuth March 23, 2012 at 9:13 am - Reply

      I know! Probably one of the best lines. Ever.

  3. Vicki March 25, 2012 at 9:47 am - Reply

    My concern was that in the original recipe it called for one tablespoon of butter.
    Didn’t seem like enough to cream all the sugar.
    Looks like a great bread. Can’t wait to make it!

  4. Beatrix February 12, 2014 at 3:34 am - Reply

    My grandmere’s recipe is almost exactly the same except her’s has ‘strong black coffee’ (probably Sanka) in place of boiling water.

  5. Theresa February 23, 2014 at 4:19 pm - Reply

    This date nut recipe is by far one of the best ones I have tried over the years. Still trying to re-create the date nut bread from Sibley’s Tea Room in Rochester, NY from years ago.

  6. Tracy May 4, 2014 at 8:43 pm - Reply

    is the sugar supposed to be 3/4 cup? it just says 3/4…
    I am hoping to make this today. I picked up the dates and walnuts to do this recipe. Thanks for posting!

    • RetroRuth September 22, 2014 at 7:48 pm - Reply

      Yep, it’s 3/4 cup. Thanks!!

  7. tammy September 20, 2014 at 9:55 pm - Reply

    Wondering same thing about sugar…cups vs tablespoon?!? Confused.

  8. Kathleen November 23, 2014 at 1:52 pm - Reply

    Anxious to try this recipe, but what is AP flour?

    • RetroRuth November 25, 2014 at 12:13 pm - Reply

      Hi Kathleen, it is just regular old flour. AP just means All Purpose. 🙂

  9. Cammie December 1, 2016 at 7:27 pm - Reply

    Mine is in the oven and I came back to see how long I leave in pans to cool off. Remove after 10 mins., let cool compleatly in pans, HELP???????

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