So, remember last month when I went on and on about how much I loved the snow and what fun snow days were? Is it too late to take it all back? :) I'm kidding...mostly. This happens every year so I shouldn't be surprised about the way I'm feeling. In December and January there is no bigger fan of the snow than me; I'm one of the few people up here you won't find complaining about it. By the time February rolls around, though, I'm totally over it. I yearn to see the grass emerge from under the piles of snow and sand. I yearn for warm, sunny days when I can throw the windows open and let some fresh air in. And last week, I found myself yearning for juicy summer berries. The craving was so strong I caved and bought a pint of strawberries when I was out shopping for our Valentine's Day dinner. It'll be many months before I can get local berries, but until then, these will do the trick and help me get through this final stretch of winter.
If you're lucky enough to live somewhere with access to gorgeous red strawberries in February, I highly recommend you use them to make this walnut-strawberry quick bread. It'll take you all of about 7 minutes to make the batter, and the hardest thing you'll have to do is mash the strawberries. For your effort, you'll be rewarded with a moist, slightly sweet bread loaded with strawberry flavor that would be perfect for breakfast or as an afternoon snack. I was pleasantly surprised to discover the lemon zest wasn't lost among the other flavors in the bread - you'll definitely notice its brightness. The recipe calls for a 9x5 pan, but I baked my loaf in an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 pan without issue (the cooking time was the same as the recipe suggests for the larger pan). The bread gets even better on the second day, if it lasts that long...
Walnut-Strawberry Quick Bread
from King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion
1/2 cup (2 oz) chopped walnuts
1 1/2 cups (6 1/4 oz) all-purpose flour
1 cup (7 oz) sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon lemon zest
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups mashed strawberries
1/2 cup canola (or vegetable) oil
Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter and flour a 9x5 loaf pan (or, even easier, spray with the cooking spray with flour).
Combine the lemon zest and sugar in a medium bowl. Rub the zest into the sugar with your fingers until the sugar is fragrant and has a texture similar to wet sand. Add the walnuts, flour, baking soda, salt and nutmeg to the bowl then whisk to combine. In a large measuring cup whisk the eggs, mashed strawberries and oil until blended. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and stir until combined.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 55-60 minutes, or until a thin knife inserted in the center comes out clean. If the top of the loaf is browning more than you'd like, you can tent with foil (I tented mine around 40 minutes). Remove the pan to a wire rack. Let the bread cool in the pan for 15 minutes then turn it out and let it cool completely on the wire rack.