Black Walnut Bread

The Recipe: A loaf of lemon quick bread, bright with citrus and smoky with black walnuts, Missouri's much treasured nutmeats, so difficult to harvest.

Black Walnut Bread ♥ KitchenParade.com, a lemon quick bread, bright with citrus and smoky with black walnuts. Or dried apricots. Or golden raisins. Or dried cranberries. Or ...

At Christmas, I jumped on the chance to purchase husked, shelled and picked native Missouri black walnuts. Knowing how difficult it is to extract the meat from black walnuts, I wanted to use them in a way that would highlight their distinctive flavor. This recipe is the first keeper, one that pairs black walnuts with lemon.

The walnuts came from a friend of a friend whose parents wile away winter evenings in front of the television with industry: shelling black walnuts. It's tedious work but generates a little cash, an old-timer's practice that's likely to slowly die off, what with the digital distractions of Netflix and Facebook. Really, who has time for shelling walnuts? Sigh.

It's not easy to find black walnuts, even in Missouri. Believe it or not, the most reliable source is Sam's Club, usually right after Christmas. Buy several bags, black walnuts freeze well and if you have Missouri in your bones, you'll find yourself yearning for their distinctive flavor.

And if you can't find black walnuts? Not to worry, English walnuts (what I think of as "regular" walnuts) are easy to find and work just as well in this loaf cake.

And the truth is, while I first tried this recipe to showcase black walnuts, it's become my go-to recipe for a soft, cake-y lemon quick bread. It's really lemony and if you drizzle on a little of the Lemon Glaze, well, it becomes even more lemony. And it makes up so easily with just pantry ingredients, it can be on the table in no time.

If you’re short on walnuts or want to create a little texture contrast, add a half cup of golden raisins along with the walnuts. Or snips of dried apricot. Or dried cranberries, hmm, maybe soaked in brandy first? You get the idea: this is a lovely lemon quick bread that's terrific with black walnuts but just throw in whatever you've got on hand.

ALANNA's TIPS While toasting, black walnuts don’t become as aromatic as pecans, say, or even their English walnut cousins. So be careful they don’t burn while toasting. With a half cup of sugar, this bread works as a barely-sweet morning bread. For an afternoon treat or a sweeter bread, use 3/4 cup of sugar. For the fluffiest lemon zest ever, invest in a fine-grained microplane. The inspiring recipe called for cake flour but all-purpose works just fine.
Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via recipes@kitchen-parade.com. How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. Follow Kitchen Parade on Facebook!

BLACK WALNUT BREAD

Hands-on time: 30 minutes
Time to table: 3 hours
Makes 1 standard-size loaf
    PREP
  • 1 cup (140g) black walnuts, shelled and roughly chopped
    EGG WHITES
  • 2 large egg whites (save the yolks for the batter)
  • 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar, optional
  • Pinch of table salt
    BATTER
  • 1/2 cup salted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (100g) sugar (use 3/4 cup for a sweeter cake, see TIPS)
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • Zest and juice (about 4 tablespoons) from 2 lemons
  • 1-1/2 cups flour, fluffed to aerate before measuring or 190g
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup whole milk (low- and non-fat milks work fine too)
  • Toasted Black Walnuts
  • Whipped Egg Whites

PREP Set the oven to 350F/180C. Arrange the walnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet and place in the oven to toast while the oven preheats. Toast until the walnuts are slightly aromatic, about 10 minutes. Lightly butter or spray a standard size loaf pan.

EGG WHITES In a medium bowl, beat the egg whites, cream of tartar and salt with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Set aside.

BATTER In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy with an electric mixer. Beat in the egg yolks one at a time, then the lemon zest and juice.

In a separate bowl, stir together the flour and baking powder. Mixing just until combined, mix in 1/3 the flour mixture, half the milk, 1/3 the flour mixture, then the remaining flour and remaining milk.

With a spatula, gently fold in the beaten egg whites and toasted walnuts. Transfer to the loaf pan.

BAKE & COOL Bake for 30 – 40 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 – 15 minutes; the cake is tender, don't remove it too soon! Gently remove from pan and finish cooling.

Slice and serve.

OPTIONAL LEMON GLAZE The inspiring recipe calls for finishing the loaf with a lemony glaze after it cools. Just boil 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 2 tablespoons water and 1/4 cup sugar in a small saucepan for 2 minutes. Drizzle over the cake and if you like, sprinkle with a bit of pearled sugar, it's all show-business, don't worry if you don't have any.

NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Slice, assumes 16 slices without Lemon Glaze: 154 Calories; 11g Tot Fat; 2g Sat Fat; 43mg Cholesterol; 134mg Sodium; 11g Carb; 1g Fiber; 7g Sugar; 4g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS Old Points 4 & PointsPlus 4 & SmartPoints 6 CALORIE COUNTERS 100-calorie serving = 2/3 slice (3g protein).
Adapted from one of the grand dames of cookbooks, the Silver Palate Cookbook.

If You Love Black Walnuts, Don't Miss These Recipes

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For some reason, our founding fathers decided it would be a GREAT IDEA to line the city's streets with (mostly) black walnut trees. Ummm...not. What a mess - every year! On the up-side, the old guys go out and gather all the walnuts their hearts desire; take them home; husk, shell, crack and pick till their fingers bleed; then sell them in baggies for $5 a bag. HAHAHAHA! God - I love living here!

This bread looks really, really good Alanna. However, to my mind at least, it *needs* the flavor of black walnuts instead of English. I don't know - maybe you have to grow up with them to appreciate their flavor. Thanks for the recipe.
 
Always on the lookout for that perfect recipe to use the precious black walnuts my dear mother-in-law gives me each year. This sounds wonderful. Concerned about the 1 cup of milk, I googled and it seems it should be 1/2 cup. Of course, I also found a couple posts on the web that doubled the amount of baking powder. Yikes, maybe I should buy my own copy of The Silver Palate Cookbook.

Would you please let me know about the milk?

Thanks,
Charlene
 
Hi Charlene, Sorry for slow response, not a question I could answer quickly while tied up with family stuff for the last week. As it turns out, it's not a straight-forward answer at all.

I can't put my hands on the Silver Palate cookbook, must have lent it out. But my own sleuth work shows that that I DID cut the recipe in half for a single loaf. The NPR recipe source (one I'd trust) calls for 1 cup of milk for two loaves and it's possible I either MADE the bread with a full cup of milk or just wrote the RECIPE with a full cup.

So ... what I would do is to start with a half cup of milk, check the texture and then decide whether to add another half cup.

And if I weren't out of black walnuts, I'd be making this NOW, to figure out the answer myself. We used the last of this year's supply for a family party this weekend, Old-Fashioned Black Walnut Chocolate Cake, which, for the record, is the recipe I'd most recommend for a precious supply of black walnuts.

Thanks so much for bringing this question to my attention, I work really hard to "get the recipes exactly right" and am always upset when it doesn't work out that way.
 
Charlene ~ Are you still out there!? It took me waayyyy too long to find/correct this detail but yes, the right amount of milk for a single loaf is 1/2 cup. BTW, such a great recipe this is! I’ll be making it again soon!
 

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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna