Friday, February 12, 2010

Grandma's Fruit-Nut Bread

When my grandmother died twenty years ago, my mother saved her recipe box. This was one of the recipes I was happiest to find inside. It’s a quick bread that Grandma made with dates and apricots. Like most quick breads, it benefits from sitting around, so a loaf made on Sunday tastes great all week. Try it as an afterschool snack for the kids, maybe with a little cream cheese.

6 pitted dates (about 3 oz)
12 dried apricots (about 3 oz)
1 tsp baking soda
1 c walnuts
1¾ c flour
¾ c sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
½ tsp baking powder
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Butter and lightly flour a loaf pan.

3. Chop the dates and apricots into pea-sized pieces. Place in a small bowl. Coat with the baking soda. Add 1 cup boiling water. Stir to separate, then let hydrate while you prepare the dry ingredients.

4. Chop the walnuts. Combine in a mixing bowl with the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder. Beat the egg with a fork and add it to the dry ingredients. Add the vanilla extract.

5. Add the fruit-and-water mixture and stir to combine thoroughly. Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan.

6. Bake until done, testing as you go, about 45 minutes. Allow the bread to cool completely before slicing.

• You can use any dried fruit or nuts for this recipe. I usually keep the dates and walnuts, but I've successfully substituted dried cherries and dried cranberries for the apricots.

• I test for doneness using a knife. I insert the blade into the center of the loaf, and if it comes out clean (no gooey batter attached), then I know the bread is done.

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