Every once in a while I like to bake something a little bit less decadent and rich, and a bit more healthful. This is a great light alternative when you’re not in the mood for something heavy. I love baking quick breads, especially banana and zucchini. I’ve never tried a simple spiced loaf with dried fruit though. Boy was it fantastic! I spread some softened butter on it and enjoyed a couple slices with my coffee this morning. The texture is pudding-soft at room temperature so be careful not to slice into it before it cools otherwise it might be too soft to handle. I know it’s hard when such delicious aromas are wafting through your kitchen, but please try to restrain yourself haha. The topping is not the usual crumb either, not like a streusel. It’s just cinnamon, brown sugar and a nut of your choosing (I chose pecans). It creates a perfect contrast of texture, just a slight crisp crunch to go with such a moist bread. Nothing heavy like the topping of a crumb cake, so it is really kept light throughout.
What makes this quick bread so unique is the significant addition of applesauce, a technique usually used to cut fat. This doesn’t mean that the bread is “diet”, but it is certainly a bit lighter in the calorie load since it doesn’t use as much oil. I’m not one to complain about saving calories without cutting taste, so to me this recipe is just magical. So if you’re interested in trying out a new quick bread, whip this one up!
Adapted from “Baking From my Home to Yours” by Dorie Greenspan
- ¼ cup light brown sugar
- ¼ cup walnuts or pecans
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- 2 large eggs
- 1¼ cups unsweetened applesauce
- ⅓ cup canola oil
- ¼ cup buttermilk or whole milk
- 1¼ cups flour
- ¾ cup sugar
- 1½ tsp baking powder
- ¾ tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp nutmeg
- pinch of ground cloves
- ½ cup dried fruit (figs, apples, apricots or raisins)
- 1 cup old fashioned oats
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare 9×5 loaf pan by buttering and dusting with flour. Put pan on baking sheet.
- In a small bowl, using your fingers, toss together the sugar, nuts and cinnamon until evenly mixed. Set aside.
- Whisk together eggs, applesauce, oil and buttermilk until well blended. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and cloves. Remove ½ tsp of the mix and toss it with the fruit, just to coat; set aside. Stir the oats into the bowl of dry ingredients. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry and, using a large rubber spatula, stir just until everything is evenly moistened.- this is a case in which less is more, so don’t overdo the mixing. Scatter the dried fruit over the batter and stir to blend. Scrape the batter into the pan and sprinkle over the topping, patting it down very lightly with your finger so it sticks.
- Bake for 55-60 minutes, or until bread is beautifully browned and a thin knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer the bread to a rack to cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the pan and un-mold. Invert and cool to room temperature right side up.