It warms my heart to feature recipes from the women in my family. I’m so lucky to have piles of tattered recipes from my mother, both grandmothers and even my maternal great- grandmother. I grow nostalgic while gazing at their firm, clear penmanship, recalling times when I was a very small girl in their kitchens. I wish I had more from my Hungarian grandma because she was a superb cook. Unfortunately, she frequently cooked and baked without a written recipe.
After a stressful morning dealing with workmen, Larry and I wanted a treat with our afternoon tea. I rifled through a thick and battered folder marked “Family Recipes” and turned to this apricot quick bread. It comes from my maternal grandmother, who I had named “Moo Moo” around my first birthday. You can see her at the top left and right hand sides of this page. She was the most talented home cook I ever knew, even managing her way around a kitchen as she grew blind from glaucoma.
As with so many old-fashioned recipes, this one omitted both the baking time and the oven temperature, so I made an educated guess. I wonder if women were just better trained and/or more intuitive in the kitchen years ago?
Nowadays it seems that every recipe has to be so carefully written, leaving not the slightest doubt in the reader’s mind what to do next and how to do it! One of my family favorites is a recipe for sticky buns that instructs the baker to “Knead the dough until it fights back!” I doubt that would pass muster for many modern bakers.
Other than adding some orange zest, ginger and vanilla, this is Moo Moo’s recipe. For “nut meats” I thought pistachios would be a nice color contrast to the apricots. Because I had a jar of apricot preserves stashed in the fridge, I impulsively added a warm glaze of jam on top of the freshly baked bread. I hope Moo Moo would approve of grandma’s recipe of the month: Apricot Bread.
Yields 1 loaf
- butter and flour to prepare loaf pan
- 1 cup dried apricots
- 1 large egg
- 1 cup white sugar
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- 3/4 cup orange juice
- 2 cups white, unbleached flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 pinch kosher salt
- 1/2 cup shelled and toasted pistachios
- 1/4 cup apricot jam
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Butter and flour a loaf-sized baking dish. Line the bottom of the dish with parchment paper.
3. Cut the apricots into quarters and place in a small dish with hot tap water.
4. Using a standing or handheld mixer with a large bowl, combine the egg, sugar, butter, vanilla and ginger. Mix in the orange zest and orange juice.
5. Using a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
6. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients. Mix until just combined.
7. Drain the apricots and add to the batter. Add pistachios and mix briefly. Use a rubber spatula to make sure batter is thoroughly combined.
8. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean.
9. Allow bread to rest in pan for 10-15 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack. Remove the parchment paper.
10. Gently heat the jam on the stove or in the microwave. Use a pastry brush to glaze the top of the bread.