Aren’t walnuts always being pushed to being second-class citizens in cakes and quick breads like banana loafs? Or just clubbed with other dry fruits and nuts? Unfair. They can hold their own, and how, in this lovely hearty golden walnut and raisin loaf.
While a loaf may not be as alluring as a cake, it is definitely easier to make — you just have to mix the wet ingredients together, and the dry ingredients together, and then mix the wet mixture and the dry, and you’re all set to bake it. None of the creaming, and the aerating, and the adding-the-eggs-one-by-one rules (but it all does give the cake that fine crumb and make it soft). It is perfect for someone who does not have the time for a cake — but has the appetite for one! Trust me, you won’t notice the difference. The few differences I’ve found over the years are: 1. mixing methods — like I mentioned earlier, a loaf combines the wet ingredients together and the dry ingredients together and then the two are just combined, while a cake takes a lot more work; 2. the mixing method makes a loaf denser than a cake; 3. the addition of fruits and nuts — a loaf usually has fruits and nuts or peels, but cakes are usually made without (flavours are added, and yes, usually indicates the addition of fruit and nut every now and then); 4 oil and butter — a loaf is usually made with oil. Sort of like the difference between muffins — which are a type of quick bread — and cupcakes — which are mini cakes.
’Nuff about a loaf and a cake. Let’s get to the walnut and raisin loaf! I turn to the walnut and raisin loaf when I’m at the end of a week, and I want to wake up late the next day (either Sunday or a Saturday). You can make it after you get home from work, and enjoy it for breakfast the next day. It’ll turn out be be a lovely golden colour because the loaf calls for brown sugar. Oh, I must mention here that this loaf recipe calls for butter, and you’ll have heat the butter up along with the sugar. It’s just one extra step, something that helps the butter add a deeper flavour, more colour (when heated with the brown sugar) and moisture. Most of the leavening grunt work is done by the baking soda and baking powder. I’ve adapted the recipe from Breads and Muffins (The Australian Women’s Weekly: New Essentials), although I have a much older version of the book. I could not find that particular edition on Amazon and so I’ve linked it to the new book (and it looks like they have new sections).
You can pair the sweet loaf with brie or crème fraîche, and grapes or oranges. Or eat it plain, or maybe with some tea. It doesn’t matter. The walnuts and raisins pack in enough flavour and health as it is. Let me tell you what I did on a lazy weekend morn. I got up and trudged sleepily towards the kitchen. I cut up a few slices of the walnut and raisin loaf, poured meself some mixed fruit juice, grabbed some plums and grapes, and slathered a generous helping of crème fraîche onto my slices. (I know, I know, I went overboard. But my heart was light — there was no breakfast to make.) I took my tray back to my bed where I sat and ate my hearty breakfast; a vantage point allowed me to watch squirrels chase each other on the sapota tree and neem tree — a quiet, fun, hearty moment to myself before my peacefully sleeping toddler wakes up to wreak havoc.
Walnuts and raisins hold their own, and how, in this lovely hearty golden walnut and raisin loaf. The crunchy nutty walnut is pleasantly complemented by the mushy sweet raisin, and the loaf takes on a full-bodied flavour from the brown sugar and melted butter. A perfect make ahead quick bread for a lazy weekend morn.
- 55 g (2 oz) raisins
- 90 g (3 oz) unsalted butter
- 100 g (3.5 oz) brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 eggs
- 60 g (2 oz) chopped walnuts
- 150 g (5 oz) plain flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
Add to a medium saucepan the butter, sugar, and raisins. Also add 80 ml (2.7 fl oz) water and turn on the heat below it, and bring it slowly to a boil.
Remove from heat right after, and stir in the soda. Cool completely.
Preheat the oven to 150ºC (300ºF), then grease and line your loaf pan (an 8 cm by 25 cm or a 4 inch by 9 inch shallow cake pan) with parchment paper.
To a bowl, add the flour, baking powder and salt, then add the walnuts and gently whisk them all together for 30 seconds to mix them.
Beat the eggs lightly and stir it into the the raisin mixture.
Slowly add the flour mixture and fold it in until well combined.
Scoop it all into the prepared cake pan and bake for 30 minutes or until a skewer when inserted comes out dry
Take it out, place it on a rack for 10 minutes, then take the walnut and raisin loaf out of the pan and place it on a wire rack to cool.
Serving: Serve warm or cold with crème fraîche or brie, and grapes or oranges. I served my walnut and raisin loaf with crème fraîche, mixed fruit juice, grapes and plums.
The walnut and raisin loaf tastes batter when eaten the next day — it’s a great make ahead loaf. Equipment: a medium saucepan, an 8 cm by 25 cm or a 4 inch by 9 inch shallow cake pan.
Quick Bread (Wikipedia)
Scrummy Moist Classic Banana Walnut Loaf (not just spice)