Monday, April 7, 2014

Date, Apricot & Pecan Seed Bread

Remember my Breakfast Cookies?

Well, this is my Breakfast Cake!

I can't get enough of this fruit-studded baby - for breakfast, morning tea, afternoon snack, dessert... it's a multi-purpose bake. You can rest assured that your time spent making this lovely loaf will certainly pay off.

The dried dates, apricots and mixed spice trigger thoughts of the Middle East and maybe even Morocco. If you swapped pecans for pistachios you'd be that much closer.

Bananas aren't the only fruit suited to a quick bread. Let's step out of that straight-edged box!

Much care is taken to ensure this recipe delivers on taste and texture!

A blend of butter and oil may seem redundant but here's why we do it:

  • Butter gives unbeatable flavour
  • Vegetable oil keeps the crumb soft and moist - thanks to its high content of poly- and/or mono-unsaturated fats, vegetable oil is liquid at room temperature and so it keeps the loaf soft even after a few days. On the other hand, butter is solid at room temperature due to the saturated (yet delicious) fats that form very organized crystal structures and make the texture firmer.

Don't think you can just chuck those dried fruits in without any attention - they are dried after all. This means they pack a ton of concentrated flavour, but will do no favours for a desirable crumb texture.

If they go in au natural they will just suck up moisture from the batter and leave the baked loaf feeling rather dry.

Here we stew the fruit to transform the dried leathery pieces into plump moist gems that will remain soft and juicy throughout and help to keep this quick bread ultra moist.

We've also got pecans, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and sesame seeds on top of some whole wheat flour and brown sugar for one heck of a hearty loaf!

Consider this the ultimate fruit cake. One that you actually want to eat. One that you likely won't use as a paper weight. Unless that piece of paper is acting as your napkin... in that case... it makes sense.

Give your go-to Banana Bread recipe a break and dig into this!

Date, Apricot & Pecan Seed Bread
Makes one 9x4-inch loaf

150 g dried dates, chopped
75 g dried apricots, chopped
1 cup water
1 cup (142 g) all-purpose flour
2/3 cup (95 g) whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp mixed spice
heaped ¼ tsp salt
50 g pecans, roughly chopped
2 tbsp pumpkin seeds
2 tbsp sunflower seeds
¼ cup (56 g) unsalted butter, melted
¼ cup sunflower oil
¾ cup (165 g) packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tbsp sesame seeds for sprinkling

Preheat your oven to 325°F/170°C. Line a 9x4-inch loaf pan with parchment paper and butter the exposed sides.

Place the chopped dates and apricots in a saucepan with the water and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer gently for 10 minutes, or until fruit is very soft and plump, and the mixture is very thick with very little free water. You will have something that looks like a purée. Set aside to cool.

Sift the flours, baking powder, baking soda, mixed spice and salt into a large bowl then put the bran left in the sieve back into the flour. Add the pecans, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds.

Whisk together melted butter, oil, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla in a bowl until smooth. Stir through the cooled date mixture and then pour this whole mixture into the bowl with the flour. Fold together gently until thoroughly combined. The batter will be a bit thick. 

Scrape batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle sesame seeds over top. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Let cool completely in the pan before serving.

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