Dried Fruit and Nut Loaf:
3/4 cup (95 grams) all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (160 grams) firmly packed light brown sugar
3 cups (300 grams) coarsely chopped walnuts (can also use pecans, hazelnuts, or almonds)
1/2 cup (65 grams) dried cherries and/or cranberries
2 cups dates and figs, pits removed and cut into quarters
1/2 cup (85 grams) dried apricots, cut into quarters
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Dried Fruit and Nut Loaf: Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C) and place the rack in the center of the oven. Butter, or spray with a vegetable oil spray, a 9 x 5 inch (23 x 12 cm) (8 cup) loaf pan, and line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Stir in the brown sugar, walnuts, and dried fruits. Use your fingers to make sure that all the fruits and nuts have been coated with the flour mixture.
In a separate bowl, beat (with a wire whisk or an electric hand mixer) the eggs and vanilla until light colored and thick (this will take several minutes). Add the egg mixture to the fruit and nut mixture and mix until all the fruit and nut pieces are coated with the batter. Spread into the prepared pan, pressing to even it out.
Bake for about 60 to 75 minutes, or until the batter is golden brown and has pulled away from the sides of the pan. (If you find the loaf over browning, cover with aluminum foil.) Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. When cool, lift the loaf from the pan. To store, cover with plastic wrap or aluminum foil. This loaf is best after being stored for a couple of days. Will keep for about 2 weeks at room temperature or for a couple of months in the refrigerator. Cut into small slices with a sharp knife.
Makes one - 9 x 5 inch (20 x 13 cm) loaf.
I found the recipe for this Dried Fruit and Nut Loaf at the perfect time. I had just finished the last of my Christmas Fruit Cake and was looking for a similar type of cake to have with my coffee. This loaf fit the bill; a cake with lots of dried fruits (dates, figs, cherries, and apricots) and nuts (walnuts and hazelnuts) with just enough batter to hold it all together. What I also love about this cake is that it does not call for butter or even oil, instead, the ingredients are bound together with a little flour and by eggs that have been beaten with vanilla extract.
Now, don't feel you need to follow this recipe exactly, as you can vary the dried fruit and nuts, just keep the amounts the same; that is, 3 cups of dried fruits and 3 cups of nuts. There are a few things to keep in mind when buying dried fruits. First, try to buy in bulk from a grocery store or natural food store that has a high turnover. Not only will the fruit be fresher, but you can see, smell, and feel, the fruit to make sure it is fresh and of high quality. Pre-packaged fruit can also be excellent but it is harder to tell the quality of the fruit through the plastic bag. Make sure to check the expiration date on the bag. Always look for dried fruit that is plump, moist, and has good color. Never buy fruit that is dried out or moldy. There is a debate about whether to buy 'sulphured' or 'unsulphured' dried fruits. Some like to buy 'sulphured' which means that it has been treated with a sulphur dioxide solution. This preserves the fruit's bright color and makes the fruit very soft and moist. The downside is that some people can taste the preservative while others are allergic. Of course, 'unsulphured' means it has not been treated before it is dried and some say the flavor of untreated dried fruits is far superior. The downside is that the fruit's color may be slightly faded looking, especially dried fruits (like apples, pears, and bananas) that oxidize quickly.
This recipe comes from Alice Medrich's book Pure Desserts. It follows the same formula as the Fruit and Nut Squares recipe on the site, which came from Alice Medrich's book Cookies and Brownies.