Just like many of you, I do a lot of baking during the holidays. Over the last couple of weekends, my trusty Kitchen Aid mixer has been in constant use and the sweet smell of warm vanilla, butter, and sugar has been wafting from the oven. I love to bake treats to serve at family gatherings, to take to work, and to give as gifts. I always make a variety of items: a couple of my favorite cookies, a newly discovered treat or two, and a few special requests, all for the delight my family and friends.
This year, one of my new recipe discoveries is this Almond Bread from Cooking Light magazine. Regular readers of Daisy’s World already know my penchant for quick breads. I just love moist, nutty breads and cakes, and this almond bread is exactly that! It actually taste more like a pound cake, but without a pound of butter! I had never used almond paste before, but I am going to be using it a lot more in the future.
I love the almond flavor, so in addition to the almond paste and sliced almonds, I replaced some of the flour with almond meal and added a bit of almond extract to the dough. Perhaps it sounds like almond overload, but it really has a great flavor, without being overpowering or cloying. Of course, feel free to omit the additional almond flavorings , if you wish. The simple glaze, made with powdered sugar and milk, adds a nice sweet touch. For a citrusy variation, make an orange glaze by replacing the milk with orange juice.
Yields 1 loaf or 3 six-inch mini loaves
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (I used 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour and 1/4 cup of almond meal)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup sugar
1 (7-ounce) package almond paste
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
1/2 cup milk (I used 2% reduced-fat milk)
Baking spray with flour
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon 2% milk or orange juice
pinch of salt
Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a medium-size bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt, stirring well to incorporate. Set aside.
Place the sugar and the almond paste in the work bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat a medium-high speed until the mixture is free of big clumps of almond paste, about 3 minutes. Add butter and oil and beat until well-combined. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla and almond (if using) extracts.
Reduce mixer to low speed and add the flour mixture and 1/2 cup milk to the butter mixture, alternating between the flour and milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat just until combined. DO NOT OVERMIX.
Pour the batter into a 9 x 5-inch metal loaf pan coated with baking spray. (I am giving these as gifts so I divided the batter and baked them in 3 disposable mini baking loaf pans.) Sprinkle with sliced almonds on top. Bake for 50 minutes (I baked the 3 mini loaf pans for about 25 minutes, covering the top with aluminum foil for the last 10 minutes.) or until a wooden pick or cake tester inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs clinging. Cool in pan on a wire rack 10 minutes.
To make the glaze, place powdered sugar in a small bowl and 1 tablespoon milk or orange juice and a pinch of salt. Stir with a whisk until the glaze is smooth. Drizzle glaze over top of bread; let stand until set.
Adapted from Cooking Light Magazine, October 2012.
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