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Almond and fig bread makes for a better breakfast

Megan Gordon

Everyone has their comfort zone in the kitchen. Maybe you make a mean meatloaf or the very best chocolate chip cookies. Maybe your spaghetti sauce has garnered a reputation around your neighborhood. For me, quick breads, muffins and scones are my jam because they come together quickly, and I can experiment with ways to make them a bit healthier by incorporating some whole grains and much less sugar than is often called for in the original recipe.

Sometimes, in my endless tweaks, I come up with a real winner, a recipe I’ll keep coming back to for a long time. Such is the case with this almond-fig breakfast loaf.

A good breakfast bread has a few qualities, in my humble opinion: It’s not too sweet, it has some source of fiber or protein so it’ll sustain you for a bit, and it’s seasonal and delicious. I like to slice, toast and serve this bread with butter, but it’s great all on its own with a cup of strong coffee or tea.

As for ingredients, I used half whole-wheat flour, a large handful of protein-rich almonds and almond meal, and I got the sugar down to 1/2 cup. I opted for the darker flavor of coconut sugar, which is almost caramel-y, but if you can’t find it, feel free to use a turbinado or another natural cane sugar. If you’re not an almond fan, feel free to use any chopped nut (or seed) you prefer.

The streusel topping may seem a bit heavy at first, but trust me in that you want to use it all. It kind of sinks into the loaf as it bakes, and gets all toasty and fragrant. It’s the perfect little cap to each slice, and you’ll be happy you had a generous hand with it.

The best part about making this quick bread is slicing into it for the first time; each section is really beautiful with the bits of fig, almonds and crumb topping. While I love baking and giving things away to friends, I find this loaf is always one that’s hard to part with — even if it’s just a few slices.

Almond-Fig Breakfast Loaf

For the streusel topping

2 tablespoons coconut sugar (or dark brown sugar)

1 1/2 tablespoons whole-wheat flour (or all-purpose flour)

1 tablespoon chilled butter, cut into bits

1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 tablespoons chopped whole almonds

For the bread

1 cup chopped dried figs

1 cup boiling water

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup whole-wheat flour

1/2 cup almond meal

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing the pan

1/2 cup coconut sugar

2 large eggs

1/3 cup plain yogurt

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

3/4 cup chopped whole almonds

Soak the figs: Place the figs and boiling water in a small heatproof bowl. Let sit for 20 minutes to hydrate and plump the figs. Drain and set aside.

Grease a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Make the streusel topping: Combine the sugar, flour, butter and cinnamon in a small bowl and stir with a fork (or use your fingertips) to get the butter broken down and all ingredients combined well. Fold in almonds. Set aside.

Make the bread: In a medium bowl, whisk together both flours, almond meal, baking powder, cinnamon, allspice and salt. Set aside.

In another medium mixing bowl, combine the 1/2 cup butter with the sugar and whisk well. Add the eggs, and whisk until the mixture is smooth. Next, add the yogurt and vanilla extract and stir until combined.

Slowly add the flour mixture into the liquid mixture and stir until smooth. Fold the almonds and drained chopped figs into the batter.

Transfer the batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle evenly with the streusel topping. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 45 to 55 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely before slicing and serving.

The loaf can be stored covered at room temperature for up to three days. Serves 8.

Per serving: 418 calories; 24 g fat (9 g saturated fat; 52 percent calories from fat); 46 g carbohydrates; 21 g sugar; 81 mg cholesterol; 380 mg sodium; 10 g protein; 6 g fiber.