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Almond Apricot Bread

1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups dried apricots -- chopped
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 egg -- beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 1/2 cups unbleached flour
1 cup flour, whole wheat
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup almonds, toasted -- chopped

In a medium saucepan, bring the water and apricots to a boil and then simmer until very soft, for at least 10 minutes.

Add the butter, maple syrup, egg, vanilla, and orange rind and stir well until the butter melts.

Remove the mixture from the heat.

Preheat oven to 350F.

Sift together the flours, salt, soda, and baking powder.

Fold the dry ingredients into the apricot mixture. Add the chopped almonds and blend well.

Spread the batter evenly into an oiled medium loaf pan.

Bake for one hour and 15 minutes, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Allow the bread to cool for several minutes before removing it from the pan.

This bread is moist and flavorful enough to enjoy plain, but it is also delicious with sweet butter or cream cheese and a slightly tart fruit marmalade or apricot jam.
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