Black Walnut Bread

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

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

ALANNA's TIPS Not everyone has access to black walnuts. Not to worry, English walnuts are easy to find and work just as well in this loaf cake. 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 worked just fine. 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.

BLACK WALNUT BREAD

Hands-on time: 30 minutes
Time to table: 3 hours
Makes 1 loaf

Set the oven to 350F. Arrange the walnuts in a single layer in a baking dish and place in the oven to toast while the oven preheats, until the walnuts are slightly aromatic.

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

In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. 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 a well-greased loaf pan and bake for 40 – 45 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and finish cooling.

Slice and serve.

NUTRITION ESTIMATE Assuming 16 slices: 154Cal; 11g Tot Fat; 2g Sat Fat; 43mg Cholesterol; 134mg Sodium; 11g Carb; 1g Fiber; 7g Sugar; 4g Protein; Weight Watchers 3 points


OPTIONAL 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.


Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences.
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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.
 

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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