It’s about time I posted something healthy because I just know I will go nuts over BAD FOR YOU recipes as the silly season descends. This is my version of a wonderful prune bread recipe by James Beard. I remember finding his book Beard On Bread in my local library as a teenager. I loved this book. The prune bread recipe was my favourite as it’s moist and full of flavour but low in fat. Seems like disrespect to change it. But, could it be made even better? You betcha! Years ago, I adapted the recipe to make it more healthy but mostly it’s the addition of orange and brandy that makes it fantastic. OK, let’s be clear here … the alcohol evaporates during baking so it’s a little boozy in flavour but has no alcohol. It’s the (now) not-so-secret ingredient that makes this bread special … and prunes and brandy just demand some togetherness. And let’s not forget the orange. This is my humble tribute to Mr. Beard, some of whose recipes I painstakingly copied out by hand because I couldn’t find the book on sale anywhere back then. Hard to imagine now … I hope he’d approve.
The prunes in this bread make it really moist, despite being very low in fat. It keeps well wrapped in foil and stored in a plastic bag or airtight container. Store airtight at room temperature. It will keep for up to a week. You can even store it wrapped in foil, in a freezer bag or airtight container, in the refrigerator in warmer weather.
We love this for breakfast at home, on its own or spread with ricotta or quark. It makes a beautiful change from banana bread. You can make breakfast fancy schmancy and serve it with a dollop of ricotta cream (mix ricotta with low-fat yoghurt and add a little honey or maple syrup to sweeten), drizzled with honey and sprinkled with orange zest and walnuts or a few macerated prunes. It’s also really good with cheese though so it makes a great addition to a cheese board instead of crackers. It goes especially well with sharp cheeses that have bite – aged cheddar or grana padano, that kind of thing.
It’s really important that the prunes macerate in the orange juice and brandy for at least 8 hours (overnight) and up to 24 hours, if possible. Got that? IMPORTANT. It really helps the prunes absorb and intensify the flavours and it makes the world of difference to both the flavour and texture of the bread. I highly recommend planning ahead and macerating the prunes for the full 24 hours to get the best flavour. Enjoy!
- 375 grams pitted prunes
- 1 large orange
- 1/4 cup brandy
- 2 large eggs
- 250 ml skim milk or buttermilk (use lactose free, almond, oat or rice milk for a lactose free version)
- 1/2 cup sugar (or granulated sweetener)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 cups plain flour (use GF flour or oat flour for a gluten-free version)
- 1/2 cup walnut pieces (optional)