Easter holidays are about to knock on the door. I am sure most of you have already planned out what you will be doing or where you will be travelling for the holidays. I haven’t done any planning of that sort so far but what I did is baking. I love baking. I don’t know why, but I do. May be because I find it very satisfying and a good stress buster when I kneed or do a lot of whisking by hand. So, when I was approached recently to come up with some baked product with Easter in mind, I decided to make a bread almost straightaway. Of course there are the obvious Easter goodies like Hot cross buns, Simnel cake, cake pops, Easter cake, Easter Cupcake etc. etc. and may be I will bake some of these soon but for now I thought of settling with an apricot and pecan nut bread. I know its not traditional but hey some changes are good aren’t they! Especially if they are sweet treats like this. One thing you would notice on this bread that the cross I made, is with the whole pecan nuts instead of the traditional flour sugar mix. I was going off track anyway then why not push it a bit more.
I love the orangey chewy little dried apricots just like that as a snacks or baked like this in a bread. The pecan nut brings a whole new dimension to the bread. As you bite into the bread you get both the chewy and crunchy feeling in every bite of it. We had it with my all time favourite freshly brewed black coffee.
One special point about this bread is I have used Splenda sweetner instead of normal sugar just to be guilt free while I am munching down, and it wasn't bad at all. With sugar of course you get the traditional taste but if you are watching your calories than this is not a bad option, give it a try!
4 oz dried apricot (chopped in to small pieces)
12 oz boiling water
1.5 oz Splenda Granulated Sweetner or 1 cup of sugar
10 oz strong bread flour
2 oz butter
1 tsp of pure vanilla
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 oz Pecan nuts (mostly chopped, keep few whole nuts for the cross on top)
pinch of salt
Roughly chop the dried apricots and pour the boiling water on it and keep it aside to absorb as much water as possible. Leave it for 15-20 minutes. Meanwhile get on with the other ingredients. In a bowl melt the butter and add the sweetner ( Splenda ) and start beating the mix. Add the egg and the vanilla to it and mix it well.
In a separate bowl add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and give it a good mix. Now slowly add the dry mix to the wet one. At one point you will see that you need some liquid to make the bread mix. Add the water in which the apricot was soaked in to the mixture. I you are using a electric mixture and using strong bread flour like me then stop at this point and start using whisk and mix it with your hand. The reason behind that is the strong bread flour will react with warm water and become very elastic in nature and with electric mixer it will become impossible to mix (trust me on this!).
Anyway add all the chopped apricots and the nuts as well now and divide the mix in two greased loaf tins and start baking in a pre heated oven. Keep the temperature to 180 degrees C and bake it for an hour at least or more till you insert a skewer and it comes out clean. Once done, keep in the wire rack to cool it down and then enjoy with a cuppa.