Monday, October 6, 2014

Apple Quick Bread

This apple quick bread was good. It was really good. Too good to eat just one slice at a time. Too good to keep to myself, so I shared it with co-workers. Too good for there to be much left by the time I remembered that I hadn’t photographed it yet.

I based this recipe on the basic quick bread method with variations published in Fine Cooking magazine in last year’s October/November issue. (I know. It took me a whole year to get to it. It’s how I am.) This is how I want all my cooking and baking to be: a basic recipe or template with some mix and match substitutions for different flavors and seasonal ingredients. And so, I finally got around to using this idea to make something good. Something that I had had a difficult time finding a satisfactory recipe for in the past.

This quick bread is flavored with both applesauce (homemade!) and finely chopped apple. I think it was particularly delicious because the apples that I had on hand and therefore the applesauce I made with them were delicious. The bread turned out nicely moist, not quite crumbly, even though I used some whole wheat pastry flour in the mix, pleasantly sweet, and, most important, apple-y. The warm spiciness of cinnamon and nutmeg is a great accompaniment for the apples, of course, and the whole wheat pastry flour I mentioned gave the bread a bit of a nutty background.

Speaking of nuts, you could add some finely chopped walnuts or pecans to this recipe if you like. And speaking of finely chopped, I really think that’s the way the apple has to be in this bread. Apples chopped too coarsely may make the bread slices fall apart. (I think this is what went wrong with a similar recipe I tried years ago.)

I also think that if you wanted to fiddle with the baking time of this batter, you could distribute it into muffin cups to make muffins, or bake it in a cake pan and have coffee cake. Even more variations. Now, that’s my kind of recipe.

Apple Quick Bread
Based on a recipe in Fine Cooking magazine, Oct/Nov 2013

I highly recommend using an apple that is “a good baking apple,” that is, one that softens as it bakes. I also recommend using homemade applesauce if you can!

½ cup (4 ounces or 1 stick) unsalted butter
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup whole wheat pastry flour
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon fine salt
1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg, preferably freshly grated
1 cup finely chopped peeled apple
2 eggs
½ cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup applesauce

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray an 8 x 5-inch bread pan with nonstick cooking spray or grease it as desired. Set aside. Melt the butter over medium-low heat in a small saucepan. Set aside to cool.

2. In a medium-size bowl, combine the all-purpose flour, whole wheat pastry flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Whisk together to combine well. Stir in the chopped apple. Set aside.

3. In another medium-size bowl, beat the eggs lightly with a whisk. Slowly pour in the melted, cooled butter and beat until well-combined. Whisk in the milk, vanilla extract and applesauce.

4. Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and stir just until no dry spots remain. Pour into the prepared bread pan.

5. Bake at 350 F for 50-55 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached, but no wet batter. Carefully remove from the pan and cool on a wire rack. Cool completely or enjoy slightly warm. Bread can be wrapped well and frozen.

Makes 1 8-inch loaf, about 12-15 servings.

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