Wednesday, March 22, 2017
Pineapple nut bread
Hello from Spring Break Land! Well, actually, we're just here at home. We didn't go anywhere, exotic or otherwise. We decided that after the interminable recent illness and the past couple of months of endless school projects, it would be best to stay home and recharge our batteries. Did I tell you that the Bear was scheduled for knee surgery earlier this month? He had to cancel his surgery when everyone, including him, got sick. Now it's scheduled for mid-April instead. It would have been nice to have it behind us by now but that's life, right? Actually, it was kind of nice to have some "found" time before it gets hotter outside; we have been able to finish a bunch of projects lately.
Over the weekend, we ordered a storm door for our bedroom, where we have a door leading to the backyard. It's a custom size - 32 inches wide as opposed to the more standard 36 inches - so we have to wait for delivery. I can't wait to have it; the room will get so much more light than it did with the old screen door and it will be much easier to keep the inner door clean. We've been cleaning like maniacs this week, actually. We moved the furniture in all three of our bedrooms, as well as the office/fourth bedroom, to vacuum and dust thoroughly. Mattresses have been flipped, bathrooms have been scrubbed from top to bottom, windows and window frames washed and some windowsills even re-caulked and repainted! Everything old is new again - or at least somewhat cleaner.
In between blitz-cleaning, we've been cooking and baking together. We each came up with things we wanted to eat and put them on the week's menu. It's been kind of a hodge-podge - tacos, stuffed peppers, Gorton's fish fillets - but it's fun too. I've baked cookies. For a change of pace, I baked Pineapple Nut Bread, a quick bread recipe that we really love and I thought I'd share it here because it's kind of an unusual one. If you like fruity, nutty breads made with relatively little sugar or butter, this one's for you!
The recipe came from my mother-in-law's 1960's copy of Betty Crocker's New Picture Cook Book (when did "cook book" become "cookbook"? I'd really like to know). I think the book in this photo is the same one she has, though I'm not positive, and I don't have this book in my possession, but I like it. There are lots of really cool, stylized illustrations of sixties ladies, and many great recipes, as well as some very strange, dated ones that nobody makes anymore - hot, boozy broth drinks, copious amounts of aspic, so much mayonnaise. My in-laws make their permanent home in New Zealand, with several months of the year spent near us in New Mexico; this book is at their home in NZ and I encountered it while visiting them for Christmas in 2002, the year the Bear and I were married. (My in-laws are American expatriates, having retired to NZ in the 1990's).
I didn't really know my in-laws until we made that visit. I had met them for the first time at our wedding. When we visited them in NZ, it was a good opportunity to get to know both of them. My mother-in-law and I did a lot of cooking together, which was a very nice bonding experience. She let me go through her cookbooks one day, looking for something to make when friends were coming. I chose this Pineapple Nut Bread based on the ingredients she had at hand. It was so delicious I decided to write down the recipe to take it home with me. I'm glad to have written it down because I can't find it online! Above is my hand-written recipe, which I carried home in my suitcase after our visit. I've made it many times since; it's an easy recipe that makes a very nice loaf.
Pineapple Nut Bread
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
3 tbsp. soft butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 can (8.5 oz) crushed pineapple
3/4 cup chopped nuts
2 tbsp. granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a loaf pan, 9x5x3 inches.
Cream brown sugar, butter and eggs until fluffy. Measure flour by dip-level-pour method or by sifting. Blend dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Stir half the flour mixture into creamed mixture, add pineapple and juice, then remaining flour mixture. Blend thoroughly. Pour into prepared loaf pan.
Mix granulated sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and sprinkle over batter. Bake 45 to 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool before slicing with a thin, sharp knife.
I like to make this loaf with walnuts, but I'm sure other nuts, such as pecans, would work well. I always use pineapple in juice, as opposed to syrup. I think it tastes more like pineapple and it keeps the sugar content down, of course. I rarely buy small cans of fruit, just because they're more expensive, so with this recipe, I weigh out 8.5 ounces from a larger can and store the rest in a container in the fridge, or just feed it to my fruit-fiend children.
The loaf comes out with a nice, crisp coating from the sugar topping, and it's delicious to eat right away, but I think it's even better the next day. The pineapple flavor deepens and the bread is much moister and a little sticky, more like cake. It's delicious with tea or coffee. Be careful slicing it; I find that the recommendation for a sharp, thin knife is a good one because a serrated bread knife tears it apart. I store my loaf in a rectangular plastic container with a tight-fitting lid and it's good for several days - on those rare occasions that it lasts for more than two.