Generally, it’s not too much of a problem for me to come up with names for dishes. Oatmeal Raisin Carrot Cookies and Double Chocolate Pistachio Brownies, for instance, are simply named after the components in the recipes – fairly concise and very self-explanatory. This quick bread posed something of a challenge because it has a lot packed into it. It has sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, dried cranberries, raisins and whole almonds, all mixed into a lightly sweetened batter. Every bite of the bread gives you something different in both texture and flavor.
The primary reason that I mixed so much into this loaf was that I was cleaning out my cupboard and collected several almost-empty bags of dried fruits and nuts. I was going to dump them into a big container of trail mix that I had sitting on the counter so I could clean up the cupboard a little, but decided that the mix was just enough to put to another use. So, everything went right into a simple quick bread.
The bread itself is on the plain side, sweetened with some sugar and a bit of ground ginger that adds the merest hint of a lemony flavor to the bread. Plain, sweet breads – especially those enhanced with dried fruits – always remind me of tea cakes and this is no exception. It’s simple and sturdy enough to stand up to a good toasting and a splash of butter for breakfast, but can easily stand in as a satisfying slice of cake with an afternoon tea or coffee. This would also be a great accompaniment to a cheese plate in place of crackers. The seeds give the bread a bit of texture and a lot of flavor, while the whole almonds I included add a great crunch and the fruits enhanced the overall sweetness (it’s surprisingly subtle on its own).
This is a great bread to use up the odds and ends of whatever you have in your cupboard. Walnuts, pecans, pinenuts and pistachios can be used in addition to, or in place of, almonds, sesame seeds and pumpkin seeds. Dried fruits can include raisins, cranberries, apricots, cherries, currants and blueberries, just to name a few.
Sweet and Nutty Tea Bread
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 large egg
3/4 cup milk
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups mixed seeds, nuts and dried fruits
(I used raisins, dried cranberries, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and almonds)
Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and ginger.
In a large measuring cup, whisk together egg, milk, vegetable oil and vanilla extract. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour milk mixture into the large bowl. Stir until just combined and no streaks of flour remain. Fold in combination of seeds, nuts and dried fruits (using any combination you like, or as described above) and pour mixture into prepared pan.
Bake for 45-50 minutes, until loaf is golden brown and a tester inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.
Turn loaf out onto a wire rack to cool completely before slicing.
Store in an airtight container when cool.
Makes 1 loaf.