Move Over Banana Bread?

August 19, 2008

I have to say, I’m kind of happy to have put the whole here-are-my-photos-from-my-vacation thing behind us yesterday. It’s not that I don’t love a good round of show-and-tell. And, after last season’s Mad Men finale, I am totally on board with the whole slideshow nostalgia. It’s just that I’ve been really, really wanting to tell you about this bread—an almond poppy seed quick bread.

Actually, this bread played a minor role in my road trip. I brought along a couple slices for the ride down to Nashville. It’s a good thing, too, because after we narrowly escaped the jaws of a speeding ticket (a warning!) a mere hour into the trip, we were hungry. Turns out that I’m-Sorry-Officer-ing is hard work. That, and the baggie full of tantalizing slices of this bread was staring us down from the console between the two front seats and we barely made it past Gary, Indiana before digging in.

(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos & the recipe.)

I packed the bread because I was interested to get another opinion—Maggie’s—on the bread because I’d made several loaves of it and while my husband and sister had signed off, I wanted one more tastetester (and, also, an excuse to “test” the recipe one more time—a sure sign that the recipe needs no more testing and that the chief taster (me) and her waistline probably need no more testing either). Maggie approved and, even so, I made another loaf on Sunday, which has already dwindled to a half-loaf. In other words, our beloved banana bread had better watch its back.

Although we’re generally faithful to the banana bread, I do wander into other quickbread territory from time to time. I’d had almond poppy seed on my list for some time and was surprised to find a lack of recipes when I finally got around to making it (Is it in a Minnesota thing, I wonder? Because I seem to remember bakery cases there always including an almond poppy seed something.). Not to be deterred, I fashioned a recipe of my own. In the first couple incarnations, the loaf suffered from over- or under-almondiness (totally a word, in case you’re wondering) or from dryness. After several rounds of tweaks and tinkers, I think I’ve nailed it with the recipe I’m posting today.

I like this bread as a simple, rather humble loaf, perfect for a light breakfast or an afternoon snack. But I think you could easily snazz it up by drizzling it with a glaze (I’d whisk together powdered sugar, a hint of almond extract and water to thin it to the desired consistency) and scattering sliced almonds on top. Come to think of it, that gives me the perfect excuse to make this again next week!

Almond Poppy Seed Bread

Printable Recipe

3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
3 egg whites, lightly beaten
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons buttermilk
3/4 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon almond extract
2 cups all-purpose or white whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon poppy seeds

Preheat the oven to 350. Grease a large loaf pan.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the egg whites, buttermilk, sour cream and almond extract to the butter-sugar mixture and beat until combined.

In a separate medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. With the mixer running on low speed, slowly add the whisked dry ingredients. When the mixture is almost combined, add the poppy seeds. Beat until the wet and dry ingredients have just combined and the poppy seeds are distributed throughout the batter.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and use a rubber spatula or spoon to smooth the top. Bake for 60 to 65 minutes, or until the top of the loaf is golden brown and a tester inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean.

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28 Responses to “Move Over Banana Bread?”

  1. amylouwho Says:

    I’m addicted to things with almondi-ness every since eating the pastries in France. I can’t wait to try this! Unfortunately my nursing baby doesn’t like dairy so I’m going to have to wait a few more months! Thanks for the recipe! I’m making your sweet potato salad today.

  2. eggsonsunday Says:

    That is a beautiful loaf of quick bread! Sounds tasty, too. It’s so important to have things you like to eat on road trips — that’s always the first thing I plan when we talk about going on one! –Amy

  3. Megan Says:

    I do love my banana bread, but this almond poppy seed sounds (and looks!) too good to miss out on! i’ll definitely try this soon :)

  4. Amanda Says:

    What is it about poppy seeds that just dress everything up? I swear, you could toss those seeds in almost anything and I’d probably swoon. I especially love your bread because of the contrasting colors between the seeds and the white bread. This seems like the kind of bread you could cozy up to while watching our favorite Mad Men… And that episode with the slideshow was one of my favorite. Made me very nostalgic as well!

  5. Anonymous Says:

    Is that supposed to be 1 tablespoon almond extract? I am also thinking that the almond poppyseed thing is unique to Minnesota as I’ve never seen them elsewhere. Yum!

  6. Emily Says:

    I actually gasped when I read the title of today’s post… I’m currently eating a slice of your banana bread, and it’s not going anywhere from my now bi-weekly (!) routine. I will, however, make room for this bread, too.

  7. Sarah Bell Says:

    I love anything almondy, hmmmm.

  8. nicole Says:

    I love poppy seed bread! And this looks amazing (love the photos). My mom makes a version of it every year for holiday prezzies for the neighbors, and I think I need to carry on that tradition …

  9. Laura Says:

    This bread has been a family tradition for years! Mostly at Christmas but sometime served at brunch. I’d be curious to try yours since our recipes are different … but people always rave for this as they expect it to be lemon!

  10. Hillary Says:

    I know, sometimes sharing about vacations can be more work than fun! Glad you were finally able to share this good looking bread with us!


  11. This looks really nice! Great photos, sounds like an awesome recipe.

  12. sarah Says:

    oh…poppy seeds. and it’s so funny because i just read that they are banned in china.

    anyway, i love how it’s so light bright white.

  13. Alejandra Says:

    This is such a beautiful bread! I love almond everything. Can’t wait to try!

  14. sandsstats Says:

    Great loaf cake! I could never turn down a slice of that!

  15. Bev Says:

    Almond and poppyseed is one of my fave combos! This looks delicous and what a beautiful bread it makes!

  16. MGF Says:

    Got any suggestions for high altitude cooking with this recipe? We are in Colorado. Seriously I wanted to lick my screen. It looks so good. I was planning the old banana bread- but am thinking of changing my mind. Mainly I see more flour and a touch of water.


  17. amylouwho: I think it’s worth a wait! And I hope you liked Martha’s sweet potato salad!

    Amy: I couldn’t agree more. I started packing full-blown picnics. Car picnics, as it turns out, are quite fun.

    Megan: I hope you do try it! Let us know what you think.

    Amanda: So, Don Draper sold you too? And I think you’re so right about poppy seeds.

    Anonymous: Thanks for the note about the recipe. I updated it to add “extract” after “almond” in the ingredient list. And thanks too for the MN-thing confirmation.

    Emily: Two loaves a week?!? Atta girl. Might I suggest that one loaf be banana and the other almond poppy seed for next week? Just an idea.

    Sarah Bell: Me too, it seems!

    nicole: You know, every holiday season I want to do that sort of thing. Maybe I should start now and I’ll actually get it done? But my freezer might revolt.

    Laura: Yes! I remember eating an almond poppy seed muffin for the first time and fully expecting it to be lemon poppy seed and being delighted (was not a big lemon baked good fan until recently).

    Hillary: Me too!

    kimberlyblue: Thanks!

    sarah: Banned in China? Interesting. I hadn’t read that. How very un-Olympics of me. I think the bright white comes from the buttermilk and sour cream, and also the lack of egg yolks.

    Alejandra: Thanks! Give it a go.

    sandsstats: Thank you!

    Bev: Thanks! ps: cute photo!

    MGF: I’ve never done any high-altitude baking, but tips I see often are increase flour, increase (slightly) eggs, increase oven temp, etc. I thought this write-up looked helpful. If you give it a try, let us know how it goes.

  18. Shannalee Says:

    What a beautiful cake!

  19. Christie I Says:

    Thanks, I think this is just the recipe I was looking for!

    And I am not sure about the Minnesota thing because I am from NC (live in VA now) and my mom makes it all the time. Not sure where here recipe came from, though.

  20. tiffany Says:

    I love this recipe….but I’ve recently modified it, and added vanilla extract (on top of the almond extract) have you tried this variation?


  21. Christie I: Hmm, well there goes the MN theory! I hope you give this a shot. Let us know how it goes!

    tiffany: That sounds lovely! What amounts did you use for the vanilla & almond extracts?

  22. tiffany Says:

    I used an added 1 teastpoon to your recipe (and no change to the almond extract)and I also beat the egg whites a bit more to fluff it up. Thanks for the recipe, it’s a new favorite of mine :)


  23. tiffany: I tried the vanilla yesterday and didn’t notice a huge difference—but that might have been because I used all whole wheat flour for the first time. And that’s a good tip about the egg whites. I know it’s easy to skip that step but, I agree, it makes a difference here.

    For others, the loaf is still great using all WW flour, but it’s certainly not the pristine white color pictured above and it’s not quite as tasty. I think I’ll stick to white WW or regular AP flour for this recipe and save the WW flour for banana bread and other quick breads.

  24. onehappywife Says:

    I love quick breads! looing forward to trying this one in my kitchen! How well do think this would do as muffins? maybe with a little ice glaze drizzled? yummmm…getting started now!


  25. onehappywife: Me too! I’m afraid I’m commenting too late, but I am guessing these will be great as muffins. I’m not sure how the quantity would translate, though (i.e. 12 muffins or more?). The baking time would also need to be greatly reduced, I’m guessing. If you tried them, let us know how it went!

  26. Emily Says:

    So… I just tried this bread again and made it exactly as the recipe suggested (as opposed to last time when I substituted for buttermilk and sour cream), and it is amazing. I might have a new quick bread crush!


  27. Emily: Woohoo! So glad to hear it.


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