Leafing around

Cynthia Stone
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Quick breads and loaves are a great way for new bakers to gain confidence in the kitchen, and the simplest possible answer for experienced cooks to have a delicious sweet on the table in a hurry.

Today’s recipes will make you a hero, whether you’re bringing a tray of slices to the office for coffee or just want to treat your family to the smell of something sweet baking in the oven.

Cinnamon Crunch Yogurt Bread

Here’s the moistest, most cinnamony tangy loaf you will ever serve with a cuppa. Unsalted butter is an absolute must, as is the strained Greek yogurt. It takes a couple of minutes to accomplish — time will do all the work for you — and the result is far superior to sour cream. Having said that, if you have sour cream on hand, feel free to substitute.

If you decide to try the yogurt version, the technique won’t work with yogurt to which stabilizers have been added, so you must check the label in the store to make sure there are no extra ingredients. To make the yogurt cheese, line a strainer with two layers of cheesecloth. Fill with natural yogurt and refrigerate overnight, or up to a couple of days. Measure out the cup that you need. The rest is great for breakfast with fruit, by the way.

1/2 cup soft unsalted butter

1 cup each granulated and firmly packed light brown sugar

2 eggs

1 cup yogurt cheese (or sour cream)

1 tbsp. vanilla

1 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

Cinnamon Crunch Layer:

1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

1 tbsp. ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp. each ground allspice and cardamom

Stir butter and sugars together with a wooden spoon until creamy. Use an electric mixer if you prefer, but I don’t bother. Whisk in eggs, yogurt cheese and vanilla. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and stir dry ingredients all at once into creamed mixture. Continue stirring until thoroughly combined — batter will be stiff. Spread half in a well-greased and floured 9- by 5-inch loaf pan. For the cinnamon crunch layer, stir together brown sugar, cinnamon, allspice and cardamom. Sprinkle evenly over the batter. Spoon the remaining batter in small dollops all over the top of the cinnamon layer. Spread carefully to smooth the top — an offset spatula is the best tool for the job. Swirl the spatula or a butter knife two or three times through the loaf. Bake at 325 F for 45 minutes or until the top is dry and a tester in the middle comes out clean. Cool in the pan 15 minutes then on a rack to room temperature.


Coconut Pound Cake

I suppose technically this is not a loaf but a cake, but it’s so good I had to share. You won’t find a recipe with deeper coconut flavour, wrapped in a deliciously delicate cake crumb.

If you’ve never used canned coconut milk you will notice, when you open the can, the thick layer at the top with a thinner milky liquid underneath. To use it in this recipe, dump the can into a large bowl and whisk or beat until the layers are homogenous. Whatever is left over after making this cake can be used for a quick and easy curry for dinner. It will keep for several days in the refrigerator.

3/4 cup softened unsalted butter

1 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

4 eggs

1 tbsp. vanilla

1/2 tsp. coconut extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

3/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk (preferably full fat)

1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

Cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each. Add vanilla and coconut extract. Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Add dry ingredients alternately with coconut milk, starting and ending with dry. Fold in coconut. Pour into a greased 9- by 5-inch loaf pan. Smooth the top. Bake at 325 F for 1 hour or until a tester in the middle comes out clean.


Apple Pie Loaf

This is the recipe to make if you’re trying to sell your house. It will attract the neighbours and drive the kids wild.

Depending on the variety of apples you choose, you might end up with a puddle of apple juice while grating. If that’s the case, drain the apples in a strainer for a few minutes until they are relatively dry. I just grate them on a clean tea towel and by the time I am ready for them they are drained perfectly.

If you can wait an hour or two before cutting into this loaf, the flavours will have a chance to get used to each other. This bread is fabulous with tea or coffee just as it is, or toast it lightly and serve with ice cream for a wonderfully aromatic dessert. I also discovered it makes unbelievably delicious French toast, but that’s another story.

1/2 cup soft unsalted butter

1/2 cup each granulated and firmly packed light brown sugar

1/4 cup soured milk (1 tsp. white vinegar in 1/4 cup milk, allowed to stand 5 minutes)

2 eggs

2 tsp. vanilla

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp. baking powder

1-1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp. each ground nutmeg, allspice and cardamom

1/2 tsp. salt

2 cups shredded, peeled apples, drained of their liquid (about 4 medium or 2 large apples)

1 cup chopped pecans

Streusel Topping:

1/4 cup lightly packed light brown sugar

3 tbsp. all-purpose flour

1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 pinch allspice

2 tbsp. cool unsalted butter

1/3 cup finely chopped pecans

Cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add soured milk, eggs and vanilla, beating until thoroughly combined and smooth. Whisk together flour, baking powder, spices and salt and add all at once, stirring until just incorporated. Fold in grated apples and pecans. Spoon batter in a greased 9 by 5-inch loaf pan and smooth the top. For the streusel topping, combine sugar, flour, cinnamon, and allspice. Cut or rub in butter with your fingertips. Stir in the pecans. Sprinkle evenly over batter in pan. Press gently with the palm of your hand to help it adhere. Bake at 350 F for 60 minutes or until a tester in the middle comes out clean. Cool in the pan 10 minutes then remove from pan and cool completely on a wire rack.


Cynthia Stone is a writer, editor and teacher in St. John’s. Questions may be sent to her

c/o The Telegram, P.O. Box 86, St. John’s, NL, A1E 4N1.

Organizations: The Telegram

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