Sunday, March 22, 2009

fruit and nut loaf

A great snack. These are just what I was looking for!

Every day around 3:30pm, as I sit in front of my computer at work, I get hungry for a good snack. I don't want to eat junk food- I want something healthy and satisfying. Something that will get me through the rest of the day. Sometimes I bring granola bars to work, or cut vegetables, or sometimes I even bring homemade cookies...but I need more variety! These fruit and nut bars will definitely get me out of the boring snack routine I'm in currently.

One slice of this fruit and nut loaf is plenty of food for my afternoon snack. These things are loaded! I found the recipe in one of my cookbooks, one that I have not utilized nearly enough- Just Desserts by Alice Medrich. I highly recommend this book for amazing desserts.

Dried Fruit and Nut Loaf

3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
3 cups walnuts (can also use pecans, hazelnuts, or almonds)
1/2 cup dried cherries*
2 cups dried dates and/or figs*
1/2 cup dried apricots*
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

*You can really use any dried fruit here you'd like. Basically you want about 3 cups of dried fruit, and 3 cups of nuts. I chose to use dried cherries, figs, and apricots, along with 3 cups of walnuts, and was very pleased with the results.

1. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 300°F (150°C). Spray the loaf pans (either one 9-by-5-inch 8-cup loaf pan or two 8-by-4-inch 4-cup loaf pans) with vegetable oil spray or line the bottom and sides with parchment paper.

2. In a large bowl, whisk the flour with the baking soda, baking powder, and salt to combine. Add the brown sugar, all the dried fruit, and the nuts and mix thoroughly with your fingers. Set aside.

3. In a small bowl, beat the eggs with the vanilla until light. Pour the egg mixture over the dry ingredients and mix well with a wooden spoon or your hands until all the fruits and nuts are coated with batter. Scrape into the prepared pans.

4. Bake until the top is deep golden brown and the batter clinging to the fruit seems set, about 1 hour for smaller loaves, 10 to 15 minutes longer for a large loaf. Tent loosely with foil if the cake appears to be browning too much. Cool completely in the pans on a rack.

5. When completely cool, remove the cake from the pans. The cake keeps, wrapped airtight in foil or plastic wrap, for several weeks at room temperature or at least 3 months in the refrigerator. It. can also be frozen for at least 6 months.

6. To serve, cut into thin slices with a sharp heavy knife.

Happy snacking!

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