A couple of years ago, I embarked on a mission to find the yummiest, most enticing, and most delicious recipe for fruit bread. The best fruit bread on this planet. Period.
Just in case you are wondering, my search had nothing to do with culinary curiosity, nothing to do with a quest for excellence and kitchen supremacy. No, no, no, it was a different story altogether: my six-year-old daughter was refusing to eat fruits and an intervention was badly needed.
Those who have a six-year-old will understand the magnitude of the effort. They know developing your child’s palate and diversifying his or her food choices is not a trivial task. There is no straightforward convincing as in, “Hey, here is a yummy strawberry, give it a try.” There is no logic and reasoning as in, “You should eat fruits because they are good for you.” Teaching kids to embrace new foods requires much more than that; it requires a great deal of imagination, patience and character study. Or in layman’s terms, trick her into eating something she already likes, and then build up gradually.
Needless to say, my daughter’s favorite food is bread.
We started small, with a recipe for vanilla bread and three strawberries. Next time we used five. Six. Seven. Then we took a break for a while. (Because where kids are concerned, one can only push it so much.) We stayed on seven strawberries for a couple of months, before we continued to build again. Eight, ten, eleven. Two cups, yay! We added rhubarb and more strawberries. “How much fruit can one add to this bread before it explodes?” pondered my husband. “You should not call it a bread, Daddy,” advised my daughter while munching on a slice, “because you cannot really spread butter on top of it.” But no one cared about butter anymore, because by then it was our favorite “bread” by a long mile.
A couple of years down the road, and it’s still a family favorite. No surprises there, because it’s a loaf that’s bursting with happiness. A jewel loaf so to speak, stamped red all over and quite magical. Like a stained glass in Notre Dame cathedral. Like a tale from one thousand and one nights. Like a big, warm, intoxicating strawberry-rhubarb hug. When we have dinner parties, I fancy it up with a drop of rosewater and a tiny shaving of lemon zest. For playdates and sleepovers, I keep it simple. And last but not least, it’s one happy camper of a cake: it stays for a couple of days without getting dry, and freezes beautifully.
I often bake an extra loaf, cut it into inch-thick slices and keep it in the freezer for school breakfasts and field trip snacks. These days, I like to bake it in my Wolf Gourmet countertop oven, because it’s the perfect size for the loaf pan, and the red knobs are the jolly companions to the gorgeous red fruits inside. Just like strawberry and rhubarb, my cake and my oven are one happy pairing, and who can ask for more.
Aleksandra Mojsilović is a scientist by day, and a cook, photographer and doodler by night. As QueenSashy, she is the face behind the James Beard nominated blog Three Little Halves. Three Little Halves was the winner of International Association of Culinary Professionals Best Narrative Culinary Blog 2016, and the finalist for Saveur Food Blog Awards in 2014 and 2016. Aleksandra lives in New York City with her other two halves, Miss Pain and Dr. V.
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