New Year Baking: Pear, Candied Ginger and Walnut Quick Bread

A loaf of bread, a spot of tea and thou.

A loaf of bread, a spot of tea and thou…the perfect combo for a damp January day. (The cat fetish was made by fellow potter and friend, Ana Vizzuraga.)

Happy 2014! I hope all of you had a joyful holiday season and rang in the new year with great gusto and style.

We enjoyed a lovely and extended holiday time traveling and visiting with family and friends, returning home just in time to say goodbye to 2013 (with a bit of good riddance, in my book.) Alas, 2013 wouldn’t quite let go of me in that immediately upon my return, I contracted a stomach flu-type bug, which was with me all week. Needless to say, being in the kitchen was pretty far from my mind.

As this first weekend of 2014 rolls past, I’m finally feeling much better and I think I’m ready for a little sweet and light in my cooking…something for my breakfast and dessert pleasure. So what’s in the fridge and cupboard? Pears, walnuts and lots of candied ginger left over from making  chai tea mix and chocolate hazelnut and ginger biscotti. Although I love pears, I hardly ever cook with them, usually preferring to eat them raw in salads or with cheese. But of course, they are so transcendent when cooked…the heat enhancing their natural sweetness, releasing their perfume and still retaining a most pleasant texture.

It's quite hard to sit and wait for this to cool off.

It’s quite hard to sit and wait for this to cool off.

This Pear, Candied Ginger and Walnut Quick Bread was an experiment, and it came out even better than I had hoped. It has a very chunky fruit texture, which worried me a bit when I put it in the oven—wasn’t sure if I’d gone overboard on the pears—but the result is a moist, fruity, crunchy and incredibly flavorful loaf. You get a hint of the ginger and an essence of nutmeg in each bite. The tiny bit of lemon zest brings all the flavors together. I could eat the whole thing in a sitting, that’s how good it is…but I won’t. It is a new year after all, and there are all those pesky resolutions to be considered.

It’s been quite cold here this weekend, and even more so in other parts of the country (and world), which was all the more reason to enjoy a slice of this bread with a nice, hot cup of tea, coffee or cocoa.

Cheers, stay warm (or cool, if you’re in the southern hemisphere) and have a happy day!

loafsliced1Pear, Candied Ginger and Walnut Quick Bread
Makes 1-5″ x 9″ Loaf

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus a bit more for greasing the pan
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 (generous) teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup milk
2 medium pears, I used a Bosc and a Bartlett, peeled, cored and diced (about 2 full cups)
3/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons finely chopped candied ginger

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 x 5 loaf pan with butter and set aside.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt. In another larger bowl, beat the sugar and butter together with a hand mixer until well blended, then add the egg and zest and beat until well combined. Add the flour mixture and the milk in 3 alternate batches, alternating and beating each ingredient until just combined, do not over mix. Scrape the batter off the beaters, then add the pear, walnuts and ginger, stirring by hand gently until evenly combined. Transfer the batter to the prepared loaf pan (it will be thick, fairly stiff and lumpy), spread it until it is evenly dispersed in the pan and smooth the top. Bake at 350 degrees F for 50-55 minutes, or until the top is golden brown, the loaf is shrinking from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Transfer the loaf to a wire rack and allow it to cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then remove it from the pan and allow it to cool on the rack until room temperature. Slice with a sharp serrated bread knife and enjoy plain, or with a tiny bit of sweetened whipped cream if you’re still feeling decadent after the holidays.

withtea2

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30 thoughts on “New Year Baking: Pear, Candied Ginger and Walnut Quick Bread

  1. Welcome back Betsy! I am glad you were able to get out and enjoy the holiday but sorry to hear that you have not been feeling well. love the chunky bits of fruits and nuts in this bead. I have heard that most are suffering with extreme cold and snow so stay warm. Love your setting for your photos! Take care, BAM

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    • Thank you, BAM! Fortunately it was only this week that I was down, and really it was just a small divet in the road compared to anything last year. I feel really good today! Yes, it is getting down to 6 degrees F here tomorrow night. Really unusually cold this far south. There will be fires in the new fireplace for sure. 🙂

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  2. Happy New Year! So sorry to hear that you weren’t feeling well…but glad to know you are much better! This bread just proves how much better you’re feeling… look at those gorgeous photos! I love it when bread has something in every bite, and you have this so chock full, it would meet every last one of my expectations!! This recipe is being printed as I type this… so perfect!

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    • Thank you for your great compliments and comments, and Happy New Year to you, too! I’m so glad you like this recipe and I hope you’ll like the bread, too. I’ll be making this one again, that’s for sure. 🙂

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  3. Like Bam, I too love the chunky bits of fruits and nuts in this bead, I have my cup of coffee in hand and a thick slice of your bread is just what a need now. Glad you are feeling better. All the very best for 2014.

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    • Hi Norma, I actually just finished a slice with my cup of coffee in hand, and it’s still so good a day old. Wish I could send you some so that we could share the experience. 🙂 Thank you for your good thoughts. I’m focusing on a smoothly sailing good year and I hope that yours is, too!

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  4. A perfect way to bring in the first week; so sorry you weren’t well Betsy, such a bummer to be ill on holidays. This loaf looks delightful, I love baked pear too and the ginger is something I’m particularly fond of these days. Happy New Year to you too! I wish you the best for 2014!

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    • Thanks, Eva! Yeah, it was a bummer to be ill over the New Year celebrations. The only benefit was losing a few holiday lbs., but not the way I’d prefer to do it. Fortunately I’m feeling good now. Glad you like the loaf…we sure have enjoyed it. Stay warm up there. We’re going down to 6 tonight which is rather unheard of here. Nothing compared to you, but all things being relative. 😉 Take care.

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  5. Sorry you were sick Betsy! This bread looks right up my alley! I love that it doesn’t look overly sweet and the crust looks just perfectly crunchy. What an unusual and wonderful flavor profile as well! Let’s both toast to 2014! 2013 was a bummer year for me as well and I am happy to look forward.

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    • You are correct in that it isn’t overly sweet and the crust is crunchy, Geni! So glad you like this loaf…it would make great muffins, too, I think. Cheers to us both in letting go of 2013 and looking forward to this New Year!

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  6. Happy New Year Betsy. I’d love a slice of this quick bread and a cup of tea right now; it would be the perfect way to warm up. Although it is quite exciting to see the temperature rise from -18/-20 yesterday to -10 today. Yeah! How are you faring down there? Had you even heard of a polar vortex before this? It sure has been a crazy couple of weeks weather-wise. Definitely a time to enjoy quick breads, stews and soups. I’m committed to keeping up with posts and commenting better this year, so I’ll talk to you again soon!

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    • Hey Barb, so good to hear from you and Happy New Year! Wish I could send some bread your way to go with your tea. No, I’d never heard of a polar vortex before now. We set a record low for the day on Monday of 5 degrees here. Our all time record is still higher than what you’re experiencing right now…it was -9 in 1889. But it feels really cold to us this far south, and is devastating to the vegetation here. Glad you’re out and about again…I missed reading your posts and comments! Talk soon. 🙂

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  7. I have all the ingredients to may your bread except I only have one pear left in the kitchen. I think I’ll add an apple to the pear and bake your quick bread. 🙂

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    • Hey Karen! That sounds good…I mean how bad could an apple and a pear be in quick bread? I’d thought about shredding some apple into a version of this myself. 🙂 Hope you like it. My husband is lobbying for another loaf this weekend.

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