Every year I fill out these wellness tests for my health insurance, and every year I receive the same feedback- eat more fruit! Somehow this always proves challenging to me-but this year I decided to take it to heart and have been packing myself a fruit salad to eat when I get to work in the morning. Berries, melon, pineapple, nectarines- whatever looks fresh and tasty I purchase and then cut up and dole out portions of each morning. Honestly- chowing down on my fruit salad while I sort through the over night emails at my desk is one of the highlights of my morning now. However, invariably, at the end of the week I have some leftover fruit- and I am left with ways to use it up.
This past sunday, I opened my fridge to find something for breakfast and I found an almost empty carton of strawberries staring back at me. They were bruised, a little soft for my palatte, and itching to be incorporated into something that did not require them to be at their peak. So decision made- I would be making something with strawberries- but what? Not enough of them for Strawberry Ice Cream, they weren't nice enough for Strawberry Shortcake. I pulled out my trusty King Arthur Flour cook book and started scouring it for strawberry recipes. And then I found it- Walnut Strawberry Bread in their quick breads section. I read the recipe, and realized that I had every ingredient I needed-score!
Off to the kitchen I went, and just about an hour later I had piping hot loaf of Walnut Strawberry Bread. Well...kinda.
Once I mashed the strawberries I realised that I just didn't have enough of them. The recipe mentioned combining the strawberries with rhubarb, but I definitely didn't have any rhubarb. However, what I did have was some almost over ripe nectarines. They would do. I peeled and mashed two of those- and hit my measurement for mashed fruit. I also realized (very late in the process) that I was out of vegetable oil- I subbed in the same amount of melted butter- successful substitution- game on!
Walnut-Strawberry and Nectarine Quick Bread (adapted from King Arthur Flour)
1/2 cup (2 ounces) chopped walnuts
1 1/2 cups (6 1/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup (7 ounces) sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon lemon zest OR 1/4 teaspoon lemon oil
1 cup (10 ounces) mashed strawberries*
1/2 cup peeled and mashed nectarines1/2 cup (3 7/8 ounces) vegetable oil
Preheat your oven to 350°F. Grease and flour (or spray with non-stick vegetable oil spray) a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan.
In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the walnuts, flour, sugar, soda, salt and nutmeg. In a separate bowl, whisk together the lemon, eggs, strawberries and vegetable oil. Combine the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients, whisking until well-blended.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and bake for 55 to 60 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool the bread in the pan for 15 minutes, then remove it from the pan and transfer it to a rack to cool completely, 1 hour or longer. For best flavor and easiest slicing, wrap the bread while still slightly warm and let it sit overnight.
This was the easiest, most delicious bread! The fruit was sweet and flavorful throughout, and the lemon zest really made the flavors pop with every bite. Nutmeg can often over power, but here it just created a real dept of flavor and made this bread seem much more complex than it really was. I will definitely be making this bread again- and I might start trying new fruits in it as well!