Special equipment: 3 empty (14-ounce) cans (like leftover bean cans), open on one end, and greased and floured.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In a small bowl mix together the dates, pecans, and orange zest; then toss with 2 tablespoons of flour to coat.
In another bowl, whisk together the remaining 2 cups flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
In a standing mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, cream the butter until light and fluffy. Add the sugar and continue to mix; then add the egg and mix until incorporated. Working in 3 batches, alternately add the flour mixture and orange juice, mixing well after each
addition. Stir in the flour-coated nut mixture.
Spoon the batter into the cans, filling them 3/4 full. Transfer the cans to a sheet pan and bake until puffed, golden brown, and firm, about 50 minutes. Let the bread cool in the cans for 5 minutes before unmolding, or let them cool completely in the cans and wrap as a gift.