This kumquat poppy seed loaf is sweet, moist, and perfect for spring. Cook your kumquats with some sugar first for max flavor.
I love pastries that look simple and easy, but when done right, actually require a keen sense of flavor and process to perfect. My favorite bakeries (like Huckleberry, which inspired this loaf!) do this—they’ll serve something low-key like banana bread but it’ll be the best banana bread you’ve ever had. It’s a simple, easy pastry, but they’ve labored over rounds and rounds of experimentation to get it right. I love that dedication to the craft no matter how bougie or homely the pastry is.
Quick breads are like that—super easy to make at home, but to make them right takes finesse. There’s a reason I almost never purchase a poppy seed loaf slice outside—most of them suck. They’re moist but oily, sweet but cloying, “freshly baked” but dry AF. Nobody wants that.
What y’all DO want is this kumquat poppy seed loaf. I thought a lot about this, lol, so I could create a loaf I actually want to eat for breakfast, snack, or dessert. It’s citrusy without overpowering every other flavor, and some quick stovetop action creates the most lush kumquat topping.
Kumquats are expensive even in season, so I tried to maximize their use without breaking the bank, and I think this loaf is pretty good. If you haven’t eaten kumquats before, they’re wild—their peel is edible, and they taste like an orange but punchier. A boyfriend I had in college would get boxes of kumquats shipped to him since his family home had a kumquat tree in the front yard, and while he didn’t find much use for them, I’d go crazy turning them into jams and pastries. I have fond memories of experimenting the hell out of those kumquats to understand how to bring out their best side.
And since I’ve done all the experimentation, you don’t have to! This loaf takes a little more labor than your standard quick bread, but trust me, it’s worth it. Read the recipe notes below and get to it.
- The extra egg yolks and kumquat puree give this loaf a nice yellow color plus extra flavor.
- Yogurt keeps the cake moist—you can also use creme fraîche, buttermilk, etc.
- The ginger taste is mild but omit it if you like.
- Make sure to de-seed your kumquats! The seeds aren’t edible and super bitter.