This uniquely Australian Apricot & Coconut Nut Loaf is delicious sliced & smeared with butter. The recipe makes two, so eat one & freeze one for later.
In the days before new cookbooks would appear on bookshelves every other day, my Nan would write down her recipes in a faded notebook. The well thumbed pages are stained with food splatters, and her handwriting has started to dissolve where the ink meets the grease stains. At some point Nan began transferring the old recipes into another notebook, adding a few new recipes along the way. For Christmas one year, I collated both of Nan’s notebooks into a single binder for my mother. In the process, hidden somewhere between the never-fail chocolate cake and the 3-Day diet, I discovered the nut loaf.
The nut loaf appears to be uniquely Australian, and I have not be able to determine the actual origin of this baked good. If you do happen to know where they came from I would love to hear about it. Over the years I have played with Nan’s original recipes, with the nut loaf becoming a firm favourite in our house. And contrary to the name, not all recipes contain nuts. Case in point is this Apricot and Coconut Nut Loaf.
Nut loaves are baked in a cylindrical tin that have both a base and a lid. The resulting loaf is quite sturdy, not quite cake and not quite bread, and is traditionally served sliced with thick slabs of butter. I have also toasted thick slices with great success, and the relatively low amount of sugar in this recipe makes it ideal for breakfast.
In Australia, nut loaf tins remain quite easy to buy. I picked mine up in my local kitchen supply warehouse. If you are extremely lucky you might even find vintage tins in antique shops. Not in Australia, but still want to give this recipe a try? I have read that two large tin cans can be used as a replacement for the nut loaf tins. Ensure your tin is BPA free and cover the tops of the tins with foil as the loaf bakes. If you have trouble sourcing suitable tins, use a large loaf tin covered in foil instead.
Most nut loaf recipes make two cakes, and they freeze brilliantly. Yet another reason to love them. Two loaves, one for the lunchbox and one for the freezer, with limited effort. Maybe it’s time to see what other gems Nan has hidden in her recipe book.
Apricot and Coconut Nut Loaf
- 150 g chopped dried apricots 1 cup
- 125 ml orange juice 1/2 cup
- 125 ml water 1 cup
- 100 g coconut or rapadura sugar 2/3 cup
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 120 g butter chopped, 1/2 cup
- 1 egg
- 210 g white spelt flour 1 1/2 cups
- 135 g Kamut or wholemeal spelt flour 1 cup, Khorosan
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- 45 g desiccated coconut 1/2 cup
- Pinch of salt
- Butter extra for greasing.
- Spelt flour extra, for dusting
- Preheat the oven to 195C (175C fan forced).
Prepare the tins
- Grease two nut loaf tins and their lids well with butter.
- Put the base on the tins, add a small amount of flour to each tin, and put the lid on.
- Shake the tin well, turning to ensure the flour adheres to all surfaces.
- Remove the lid from the tin and discard any excess flour.
Make the Nut Loaf
- Place the apricots, orange juice, water, sugar and vanilla paste in a large saucepan.
- Bring the mixture to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for two minutes.
- Remove the saucepan from the heat.
- Stir in the butter.
- Allow the mixture to sit,uncovered, for 15 minutes to cool.
- Briskly stir the egg into the apricot mixture.
- Add the remainder of the ingredients to the saucepan and mix to combine.
- Spoon the mixture equally into the two tins.
- Replace the lid.
- Sharply tap each tin on the bench to settle the mixture.
- Place the tins in the oven, standing upright on an oven tray.
- Bake for 35 - 40 minutes.*
- Remove the tins from the oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes.
- Remove the lids and shake the cakes out onto a wire rack.
- Allow to cool completely.
* If cooked in a nut loaf tin, I find 35 - 40 minutes sufficient time to ensure the cake is properly cooked. If you are worried, take a tin out of the oven, prise off the lid and insert a skewer into the cake. It should come out clean. If not, cook a little longer.