Quick breads are some of the most versatile bakes that you can make. While banana bread may be the first one that comes to mind, you can use any combination of flavors to whip up a loaf that is just as suitable for brunch as it is for dessert. This Applesauce Citrus Bread is like a ray of sunshine on a cool winter day, made with applesauce, cinnamon and fresh citrus zest.
I use unsweetened applesauce for this loaf, applesauce that doesn’t contain any chunks of apple. The chunks of apple in applesauce tend to be a bit too saucy (haha) to bake up well in a loaf like this, which has a relatively long baking time, so I recommend sticking to plainer applesauce if you can. The applesauce adds a lot of moisture to the loaf and a hint of apple flavor. Apple doesn’t have as dominant a flavor as, say, bananas or pumpkin do in quick breads and that allows the cinnamon and citrus in this particular loaf to really shine through.
You might not think of combining cinnamon with lemon and orange zest, but the warm spice really compliments their bright citrus flavors by creating a bit of contrast in the loaf. The cinnamon also hints at the applesauce in the base of the recipe. I didn’t add any lemon or orange juice because you get plenty of flavor from the zest alone. One large lemon and one large orange should yield enough zest for this recipe.
The bread has a warm cinnamon smell when it is baking in the oven, but you’ll start to smell the citrus as soon as you cut into the cooled loaf. In fact, you will likely be able to see small flecks of lemon and orange easily! It’s moist and, while the loaf is tender, it’s dense enough to cut easily into generous slices. I enjoy serving this bread toasted and topped with a bit of butter or lemon curd, but there are many ways to enjoy it and I’m sure you’ll find your own favorites once you give it a try!
Applesauce Citrus Bread
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tbsp lemon zest
1 tbsp orange zest
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk
Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.
In a large bowl, mix together applesauce, lemon zest, orange zest and sugar. Blend in egg, vegetable oil and vanilla extract until smooth and uniform. Stir in half of the flour mixture, followed by the milk. Stir in the remaining flour mixture and mix just until no streaks of dry ingredients remain. Pour into prepared pan.
Bake for 50-55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean or with only a few moist crumbs attached. Allow loaf to cool in the pan for at least 15 minutes before turning it out and allowing it to cool completely on a wire rack.
Makes 1 loaf; serves 10.