Pineapple-Nut Tea Bread

pineapple-bread-slice
I usually try to avoid making “intermediate” desserts like loaf cakes, because they’re not sweet or gooey enough to count as a dessert or invoke my “don’t eat too much sugar!” defense mechanism– instead they sit on the counter and gradually get eroded by tiny slices every time I walk by, and before I know it I’ve eaten half a loaf without even noticing. This is not a good thing.
But in going through my pantry I discovered a mostly-full container of candied pineapple bits that I had no future plans for, and after thinking about possible uses I kept coming back to the idea of a dense, not-too-sweet loaf cake, studded with pineapple and nuts, that could be served with tea or possibly toasted. So I compared a few recipes for “tea bread” online and came up with this amalgamation, which I freely adapted to include all of the components I wanted.

The result was reasonably good– the texture of the cake was just about perfect (nice and firm with a dense crumb) but overall it was too sweet. I think it was the candied pineapple that made it over-the-top sugary– if I’d used only nuts, or perhaps nuts and dried cranberries, it would’ve been perfect. As it was, the cake would still be fine when served with a cup of strong tea to counteract the sweetness, or perhaps with a smear of salted butter or plain cream cheese on top. If I were to make this again I’d reduce the sugar to 3/4 cup, or just omit the pineapple and make it a nut-only tea bread.
Pineapple Nut Tea Bread
 
1/2 cup butter, slightly softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup candied pineapple bits
1 cup chopped walnuts

1. Beat softened butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add sugar, beating until light and fluffy.

2. Add eggs one at a time, beating just until blended.

3. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to butter mixture alternately with milk (pour the vanilla into the milk at this point), beating at low speed just until blended, beginning and ending with flour mixture.

4. Stir in pineapple and nuts, and spoon batter into greased and floured (or lined with parchment paper) 8- x 4-inch loaf pan.

pineapple-bread-process

5. Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in center of bread comes out clean. Let cool in pan 10 minutes, then remove bread from pan and cool completely on a wire rack.

Notes:

  1. I thought about adding some shredded coconut to the batter, but decided that it would make things a little more tropical than I was looking for. Also, I had a vision of neat slices of cake falling away from the loaf, and I felt like the texture of coconut might interfere with clean slicing.
  2. If I were to make this again, though, I might consider using coconut milk instead of regular milk to add some subtle coconut flavor without the texture.
  3. Like I said above, this was quite sweet, and I would likely reduce the sugar to 3/4 cup if I were making it again.
  4. On the other hand, when the cake is cut into delicately thin slices, the sweetness seems to be less prominent. Maybe if you think of it more as a confection and less as a piece of snack cake, it’ll work better.
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