Monday, January 1, 2018

Apricot Nut Loaf

Let's ring in the new year with a heirloom recipe from my family. Apricot nut bread is a simple, robust cake, low in fat, and easy to make. The apricots and lemon zest give it a bit of zing, the nuts provide contrast, and it can be served at breakfast, brunch, or with coffee and tea. It tastes even better when spread with some butter, but there goes the low-fat advantage!

My mother has been making it for decades and often gifts it to friends. I think she collected the original recipe from a newspaper back in the 1960s. I have tweaked it a bit by lowering the amount of baking powder, substituting pecans for walnuts, and using oil instead of melted butter. To make it a little more healthy, I often substitute half of the flour with whole wheat flour (which I did for the pictured loaf). This seems to work well with pecans, but it might be too hearty for almonds.

Wrapped in plastic or foil, apricot nut bread keeps well for 4-5 days, and it also freezes well.

2 cups (280 grams) flour
1 cup (200 grams) sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (60 grams) chopped nuts (pecans or walnuts for preference, but unblanched almonds or hazelnuts would also work)
3/4 cup (100 grams) dried apricots, chopped
2 tablespoons oil or melted butter
1 egg
1 cup milk
1 1/2 teaspoon lemon peel, grated

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F.
  2. Grease a loaf tin well. Optionally, also line the bottom with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on the sides. (This cake as a tendency to stick a bit, perhaps because of the low fat content, so this prevents the problem and makes it easy to lift out of the tin.)
  3. In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and, salt.
  4. Chop the apricots and nuts, then stir them into the flour mixture.
  5. In a large measuring cup or small bowl, beat the oil and egg together, then add the milk and stir in the lemon peel.
  6. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and stir just long enough to ensure that dry ingredients are incorporated into the batter. Do not over mix or beat, as this will prevent the cake from rising properly.
  7. Pour the batter into the loaf pan and bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until the crust is golden and a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean.
  8. Let cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes before loosening the sides with a knife and turning out onto a rack to finish cooling.

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