The problem with many quick breads and cakes is the lack of contrasting textures. Fruits, vegetables and nuts add body. There is certain pleasure in sinking your teeth through the different layers within a bite of cake. The inclusions add bursts of flavor. But quick breads can become boring quickly. To combat this we like to add a sugar crust. A mixture of sugar, vanilla, salt and water is stirred together to form a sandy paste and brushed on top of the cake for the last 10-15 minutes of the baking time. It forms a delicate lacey crust. Looks can be deceiving. When you bite into the cake it is crisp and flavorful, sugary and crunchy. Its texture and sweetness varies with each bite making it perfect for slowly savoring.
Generally speaking we stir together 3 tablespoons of sugar, a teaspoon of vanilla, a few grains of salt and 1 tablespoon of water to make about ¼ cup of paste. Then we use a pastry brush to coat the entire surface of the cake about 10 minutes before the cake is done and return it to the oven to finish baking.