Fruit and Nut Bread

Okay, it’s fruitcake. I’ve been trying to figure out another name for this outrageously delicious bread that does not conjure up Christmas and cross-sections of red and green dried cherries, but to no avail.

fruit nut bread

Poor fruitcake — it needs some serious rebranding. Whenever I serve this bread, half the people in the room ask for the recipe. I have been making some variation of it, adapted from The Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook, or “Silver Palate 2” as we called it, for 25 years. From the beginning, I substituted prunes and other dried fruits for some of the dates. I used whatever dried fruit I had in the pantry. Same goes for the nuts. I found that as long as I kept the ratio of fruits to nuts to about  2:1 all combinations of fruits and nuts worked.\

Yield: Makes 3 loaves

Ingredients:

fruit nut bread

52 ounces dried fruit: prunes, dates, cherries, raisins and apricots
28 ounces nuts: pecans, almonds, and walnuts
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
6 eggs, room temperature, separated
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
grated zest of one orange
6 tablespoons butter, melted
5 tablespoons whipping cream
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1  1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2  1/2 teaspoons baking powder

Instructions:

Prepare oven and pans:
Preheat oven to 325º.

Spray three 9x5x3 loaf pans lightly with cooking spray.  Line each pan with aluminum foil. Butter the foil liner. We do this tedious process because the bread needs to cook for a long time at a low temperature. The foil keeps the loaves from drying out and sticking to the pans. As a test, I made two regular loaves and three mini loaves. I didn’t use foil on the mini loaves and the bread stuck to the pans. I’m a believer now. The reason you spray the pan before lining it with foil is for easy release of the foil-lined loaves after they have baked. These steps are all necessary. I’m not into make-work:-)

fruit nut bread

Measure fruit and nuts:
I tend to keep large bags of dried fruits and nuts in the house, so when it comes time to make this recipe, I simply pour a variety of them into a bowl placed on the digital scale and keep adding until the scale reads 3 pounds, 4 ounces. I then pour in the nuts until the scale reads 5 pounds. Easy-peasy.

Technique Time: Zeroing out a scale
A digital scale is a good tool to have in the kitchen.  I recommend this one by OXOIt can weigh items up to 11 pounds. After three years of owning it, I haven’t once needed to change the batteries. It makes zeroing out the container you are using very easy and even has a “zero” button. You’ll need to weigh the mixing bowl and “zero” that weight out before adding the fruits and nuts. To do this place the large empty bowl on the scale. This one weighs 5 pounds and 2.5  ounces. Push the “zero” button on the right. The scale is now ready to show the weight of just the ingredients in the bowl.

fruit nut bread fruit nut bread fruit nut bread

Here is a “grocery list” of fruits and nuts to purchase:

16 oz prunes + 5 oz cherries + 6 oz apricots (cut each in half) +
fruit nut bread fruit nut bread fruit nut bread

8 oz raisins + 17 oz pitted dates (cut each in half) = total of 52 oz.
fruit nut bread fruit nut bread

16 oz pecans + 8 oz walnuts + 4 oz slivered almonds = total of 28 oz.

There is now a total of 5 pounds of fruits and nuts in the bowl! Next, add 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour to the bowl and mix with your hands to break up the fruits that are sticking together. Make sure every fruit and nut morsel is coated with the flour. Coating fruits and nuts with flour helps to keep them from sinking to the bottom of the pan while baking.

fruit nut bread

Prepare the batter

Separate the eggs into whites and yolks.

Beat egg whites on high speed in a clean, dry, mixing bowl until the whites puff and form peaks and then stop beating. You don’t want to overbeat the egg whites. Use a rubber spatula to spoon egg whites into a separate bowl. Set aside.

fruit nut bread fruit nut bread

Next, add the eggs and sugars to the mixing bowl (no need to wash it first) and cream ingredients together for 2 minutes on medium-high speed. Note the rich orange color of the egg yolks. Those eggs are from my free-ranging backyard flock. Amazing color!

fruit nut bread

Add the grated zest of one orange.To learn more about zesting citrus, go here.

fruit nut bread

Add melted butter, heavy cream, and vanilla and almond extracts to the batter and mix for one minute on medium speed.

fruit nut bread

In a separate small bowl, use a whisk to mix the whole wheat flour and baking powder.

fruit nut bread

Add flour mixture to batter and stir gently for about 30 seconds until just blended. Do not over mix.

fruit nut bread

Now you have a bowl of batter and a bowl of stiff egg whites.

fruit nut bread

Fold egg whites gently into the batter and blend until just mixed.

fruit nut bread

Adding fluffed up egg whites like this makes your batter lighter.

fruit nut bread

Stir batter into the bowl with fruits and nuts.

fruit nut bread

Pour batter evenly into three loaf pans. Use your fingers to create a mound down the midline of each loaf pan. As I mentioned earlier, an attempt to not line the pans resulted in the bread sticking to the mini loaf pans. The foil-lined pans released freely.

fruit nut bread

Bake covered with a sheet of foil for 40 minutes.

fruit nut bread

After 40 minutes, remove foil and bake for another 40 minutes.  Loaves will be medium brown in color when done. Oven temperatures vary, so check color at 30 minutes. You can’t rely on the knife test to check for doneness because it continues to come out with crumbs on it, even when the loaves are done.

DSC_0059

This bread freezes well. I found one in my freezer that was one and a half years old. When I thawed it, I was totally prepared to throw it away, but it was perfectly fine to eat.

Other quick breads:
Marion’s Crazy Good Pumpkin Bread with Chocolate Chips
Ellen’s Most Moist Zucchini Bread
The Biscuit King

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© 2014-2017 Judy Wright. All rights reserved. Photos and text may only be used with written consent.

11 thoughts on “Fruit and Nut Bread

    1. Ginger, that is a marvelous idea! This bread is great for breakfast and for “digestion.” I like to give it to people who have had surgery, or moms who have just had a baby. Thanks for writing! xo

  1. I am torn each and every time I read your blog. Part of me wants to go and make whatever you’re making, grow whatever you’re growing and raise whatever you’re raising. The other part just wants to go sit at your house with a cup of good coffee, soak up that Judy goodness and WATCH you make, grow and raise.

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