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Rural Escape: Pitstop Snacks

Road Trip Nut Loaf | Simple Provisions

It was the kind of weather that makes vinyl seats a problem. My sticky bare legs make a sucking noise when attempting to shuffle to the middle of the back seat of the car to make way for my Mum on one side and my Great Gran on the other. My Grandparents are in the front of the Sigma, ready to drive us eight hours to Adelaide. I have a broken arm that is itchy as hell under the hot plaster. The car windows have been rolled down in an attempt to provide relief from the heat, and to blow Grandpa’s pipe smoke beyond our immediate vicinity.

We’re en route to our first stop, where, despite the searing temperatures, Grandma will produce a thermos of hot tea and a roll of moist date and walnut loaf, sliced and slathered in butter. This is tradition, a family favourite that is so much a part of road trips that even radiating heat can’t alter the menu for a roadside stop. When thinking about my food memories related to cars for the Paint the Town Ford Challenge, I knew I had to recreate this family tradition.

Road Trip Nut Loaf | Simple Provisions

Just say yes to socks and sandals, I say. Why yes, it was the 80s!

The classic Australian roadside stop includes a picnic table and a brick toilet block, maybe some nice trees if you’re lucky. Generations of weary drivers and cooped-up kids have unfolded themselves from the car to take a break from the highway, have a loo stop and unpack a little treat to keep them going for the next leg of the trip. Date and walnut loaf is a great option for a roadside snack. It keeps well, provides a sugar hit to perk everyone up and has nuts and dates in it for more sustained energy. And it’s delicious.

Road Trip Nut Loaf | Simple Provisions Road Trip Nut Loaf | Simple Provisions

Traditionally, nut loaf is baked in a Willow cylindrical tin. I don’t have one, and although this recipe cooks up fine in a normal loaf tin, I tried a few different repurposed food tins to see if I could recreate the traditional cylindrical shape. Here’s what I found:

  • Tins with ring-pulls on top don’t work. The edge that is left on the tin when the top is pulled off means that the loaf gets stuck in the tin.
  • You need a tall tin. Tins of asparagus spears work well, or look for tall 750g tins (I found a 750g kidney bean tin that was great).
  • You need a safety can opener, like this one, which leaves a clean edge. Normal can openers leave a sharp edge which makes working with the tin dangerous for fingers.
  • Obviously you need to remove the label and any glue on the tin. Soaking it in warm, soapy water will make this easier.
  • Fill your tin to just under 3/4 full. The loaf will pop out over the top.
  • Different sized tins will result in different cooking times, so it will be a bit of trial and error when testing “doneness”. I found mine ranged from 25-40 minutes, the skinnier the tin, the shorter the cooking time.
  • Be super careful when turning the loaf out of the tin to avoid breakage. Turning the tin directly upside down and guiding it out slowly worked best for me.
  • The tin is great for transporting the loaf!

Road Trip Nut Loaf | Simple Provisions

Road Trip Nut Loaf | Simple Provisions

This is the last of my Ford posts, I give the car back next week. I can honestly say I’ve enjoyed driving the Ford Kuga. Here’s what I liked:

  • It’s a very comfortable car to drive, with the giant sunroof (it takes up 41% of the roof) making it feel even bigger than it already is.
  • Keyless entry and starting is something I never knew I needed, but will now miss. I had to drive our normal car last week and I stood next to it for a bit too long before realising that it wasn’t going to magically unlock and open for me like the Kuga does.
  • The Sync technology means that making phone calls and playing music is very much hands-free and easy, which I’ve appreciated on those days when a trip in the car was the only thing to get and keep the baby asleep.
  • The parking and reversing assistance is extremely handy. I was too scared initially to try the automatic parallel parking feature, where the car steers itself into the parking spot, but when I did it was quite amazing. We’re living in the future people!

Thanks to Ford and Kidspot for the opportunity to drive the car, and for the inspiration for the car-related blog posts (the others are here and here), it’s been fun! Also thanks to Lucy King for providing the gorgeous illustrations that have accompanied every post.

Road Trip Nut Loaf | Simple Provisions

Date and Walnut Loaf

Recipe from here


  • 1 1/2 cups self-raising flour
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 1 cup walnuts chopped
  • 100 gms butter
  • 3/4 cups brown sugar
  • 1/2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups dates, chopped
  • 1 egg beaten lightly


Preheat oven to 180C.

Place flour, bicarb and mixed spice in a bowl, add walnuts and mix through.

In a saucepan, combine butter, sugar, water and dates and stir over a medium heat until the sugar has dissolved and butter has melted. Cool slightly, then add to dry mixture.

Add egg and fold to combine ingredients.

Use cooking oil spray to coat tins. Spoon mixture into one loaf tin or two tall tin cans (to 3/4 full in each).

Cook for 40-45 minutes, checking after 25 minutes if using tin cans as cooking time varies depending on the size of your can.

Remove carefully from tin and serve cut in slices with a thick smear of butter.



This post is part of a three-part series in which I feature the Ford Kuga Titanium. As part of the Kidspot Voices of 2014 competition I was selected to drive the car for 6 weeks and blog about it, with the hope of winning some lovely prizes. All the views expressed are my own, and I don’t write what I don’t believe.

19 thoughts on “Family Favourite Date and Walnut Loaf

  1. Simon says:

    Using a old tin to bake with is such a novel idea. I loved the story behind the cake too – everyone has childhood memories of long and cramped car journeys! We used to drive from England all the way down to the South of France or Italy.

    1. Amelia says:

      Simon, South of France and Italy sound a hell of a lot more glamorous than Adelaide! I think I would have been a bit more forgiving of the cramped space if there was gelato at the other end of the trip ;)

  2. shazzameena says:

    My mum had one of those tins but recently sent it to the charity shop, I think…

    1. Amelia says:

      Oh no! I went into every op shop in Kyneton in the hope of finding one, but no luck. She could have sold it on ebay for a profit!

      1. shazzameena says:

        I must get her into the world of ebay!

  3. LOVE this family favourite Amelia… especially as it has such a great memory attached to it! The days of family road-trips and hot, sticky vinyl seats – yes, I can relate completely! Eye-Spy and number-plate cricket… Anodised metal picnic cups pulled out from their leather case in the glove box… The good ol’ days! :)

    1. Amelia says:

      YES Margot! I’d forgotten about the leather case of anodised metal cups! Thanks for the reminder. I’ll have to look out for some in op shops.

  4. margaret21 says:

    I’m all out of kilter when I read your posts! We’ve just had our first frosts here in the UK, and our autumn leaves are falling fast. So your wintry cake is just the thing. And I love your ideas about the tins. I can feel Christmas hamper gifts coming on…..

    1. Amelia says:

      Great idea Margaret, they’d make a great Christmas hamper gift. Enjoy those autumnal days. I’m suffering from spring hayfever on this side of the globe.

  5. KerryCan says:

    Fun post, all the way around! The nostalgia of the family car trip really resonated–I can remember similar trips, although I grew up halfway around the world. I love the round photos–such a clever idea–but I really, really love that pink and gold dishtowel!

    1. Amelia says:

      Thanks! I love the dish towel too! I got it at a tag sale when I worked at Martha Stewart – they were the best tag sales ever!

  6. Sam Sin says:

    Thumbs up to socks and sandals, especially when they match your entire outfit! Lovely cake recipe too :)

    1. Amelia says:

      Oh yes, I was all about matching. I had a wardrobe made up of exclusively aqua and white clothes one season!

      1. Sam Sin says:

        Any photographic evidence? 😉

      2. Amelia says:

        Ha! None that I’m sharing, socks and sandals is enough of an insight into my childhood for one week ;)

  7. Saskia (1=2) says:

    Lovely post Amelia. GREAT photos. Especially love the circle arrangement. Good on you for tackling cake in a tin. Looks perfect – love that the tin functions as its own container too (and how ace is that fold-down tray in the Kuga)!
    PS. So much I can relate to in the stories of your early family road trips… those vinyl car seats! Never did understand why my dad always wore shorts. Ouch! And the suffocating pipe smoke :)

    1. Amelia says:

      The airline tray in the back seat is so cool Sas! I would have loved that as a kid. A definite step up from the smoke-stained Sigma that smelled like a pipe was burning even when it wasn’t.

  8. sparklesr says:

    Looks very tasty I will have to try this out…dates make a very tasty alternative to sugar, when you can’t eat glucose!!!

  9. stateeats says:

    LoL, some experiences are universal. I spent my entire childhood in the back seat of a Chevy Impala station wagon trying not heave due to my dad’s nasty cigar smoke while driving from upstate NY to NYC to visit all my relatives. Ahh, those were the days! Enjoyed your post and recipe.

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