Every year a local farm has a big sale of California fruit and nuts. They carry all the nuts you would expect, but they also have a good variety of dried fruits. There are the usual’s; dates, figs, apricots, raisins….but also apple rings, peaches, unsweetened coconut and strawberries. Yes strawberries….I’m not talking about the crunchy dry things you see in breakfast cereal (those are dehydrated strawberries). I’m talking about something like a fig….soft, sweet and intensely flavorful. I had never seen anything like them….so of course, I had to buy a bag.
Then I tried finding a good way to use them. Sadly, finding recipes was somewhat of a lost cause. So after several less than satisfying attempts to use them like strawberries, I decided to use them like the dried fruit that they were.
My orange fig bread recipe came to mind….a mildly sweet bread with orange, cinnamon, pecans….very tasty and healthy to boot. Why not make a bread with the strawberries? Orange and cinnamon also pair well with strawberries. I used sliced almonds and added a some molasses for a little complexity. Instead of a 1 pound loaf, I used my mini loaf pan instead, so that I could share my new find a little more easily.
The aroma woke my son up. He had been one of my “tasters” of previous attempts to make something that measured up. He sets a pretty high bar nowadays. He eyed my baked good with a skeptical eye, but then he tasted it and so did I. Finally, I had found a method that let the strawberry flavor “bloom” you might say? The orange and molasses were great partners. I had a some plain yogurt that I had mixed some honey and cinnamon into and let blend. A smear of that on the top (although not really necessary) made it even better.
I have been given “permission” to post this one. 🙂
8 oz dried strawberries
3/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup raw sugar
1/4 cup molasses
2 Tbs fruity olive oil
3/4 cup unbromated, unbleached AP flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder (aluminum free)
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup sliced almonds + more for topping
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Pour OJ in a cereal bowl and microwave for 1 minute. Add strawberries and set aside for 30 minutes.
In a medium mixing bowl, combine flours, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and almonds. Set aside.
In another mixing bowl, combine sugar, molasses, olive oil and eggs. Beat until well mixed. Add OJ and strawberries and mix again for 1-2 minutes. Gradually mix in dry ingredients and beat until combined.
Pour batter into mini loaf pans (or into single 1 lb loaf pan). Sprinkle top with additional almonds. Bake for 30-35 minutes for mini loaves or 45-50 minutes for large loaf. Toothpick inserted in center of loaf should come out clean. Cool for 5 minutes in pan. Remove and allow to cool on racks. Serve warm as is or with a smear of yogurt or soft cheese. Enjoy the aroma and flavor of spring!