Strawberry-Rhubarb Bread

After the success of the strawberry-rhubarb compote that went with last week’s chocolate polenta cake, I simply had to buy more of both items at the farmer’s market yesterday. But this morning, instead of simply making more of that yummy (and extremely diet-friendly) dish, I felt like baking. Something brunchy, Sunday morningish. As always, I pulled out my most trusted baking book first, The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion. Sure enough, there on page 86 was exactly what I sought: Walnut-Strawberry Quick Bread. A variation employed rhubarb.

Since I’m not overly fond of walnuts, I decided to substitute toasted pecans. And since I’m on Weight Watchers (even though I’m failing miserably), I lightened the recipe. The version provided below uses Splenda, fewer whole eggs, and applesauce in place of half the oil. Be warned, this is a very moist bread. When you cut into it, you’ll think perhaps it’s not done, but it is. And it’s delicious. Not too sweet, with tart bursts of rhubarb and juicy strawberries, studded with crunchy nuts. It may be too good, in fact—I’ve already had three slices today. Aargh…

Weight Watchers readers: One slice is 4 points! Definitely more than I’d like it to be, considering how much I’ve eaten.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Bread
Adapted from The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion
Serves 12

½ cup chopped toasted pecans
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup sugar
½ cup Splenda
½ t. baking soda
¼ t. salt
¼ t. nutmeg
1 T. lemon zest
2 large egg whites
1 large egg
¾ cup mashed strawberries [drain them, if they’re very juicy]
¾ cup cooked rhubarb [about 3 stalks]
¼ cup vegetable oil
¼ cup unsweetened applesauce

Preheat the oven to 350. Spray a loaf pan with nonstick spray and set aside.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the pecans, flour, Splenda, sugar, soda, salt, and nutmeg. In a separate bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients. Combine the wet ingredients with the dry, whisking just until blended. [As with all low-fat baked goods, you don’t want to overmix or it’ll get tough.]

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and bake for 55 to 65 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the bread in the pan for 15 minutes, then remove it from the pan and transfer to a rack to cool completely, 1 hour or longer [I couldn’t wait, of course, which might explain why mine looked underdone when I cut into it.] The recipe says that for best flavor and easiest slicing, you should wrap the bread while still slightly warm and let it sit overnight. Yeah, right.