I am waaaaaaay behind on the posts I had hoped to make. I still have an entire summer's worth of farm-share related blogs to get to, but I'm going to not even think about those until after this holiday season is done.
Although I love yeast breads, the joy and simplicity of a simple quick bread never ceases to amaze me. After I went on my annual apple-picking excursion, I wanted to try some new things with my apples. The first recipe I settled on was an apple quick bread, which is a variation of Paula Deen's zucchini bread, which I became well-acquainted with this summer during my farm share, when I had zucchinis coming out of my ears. At the time, I thought the base would be good for other fruit or veggie mix-ins, and I was right. With a little tweaking, I made this recipe work beautifully for apples.
But first, a little interlude (or skip down for more baking!):
Halloween is my absolute favorite holiday, hand's down. Not only do I love Halloween-themed treats, but I love Halloween tradition as well. Last year, around this time, I paired my Halloween and Fall-themed posts with little blurbs on the background of some common Halloween tradition and/or lore, including the history of Halloween and trick-or-treating, vampires, zombies, jack-o-lanterns, and bobbing for apples. This year, even though I am starting a little late, I am continuing that tradition with this latest topic:
|"So useful to have him swooping around like an overgrown bat."|
This is my 6 month old kitty cat, Severus (as in Severus Snape, because I'm a huge nerd), and he and his brother Magnus hold my heart in their paws. I've always been a dog person, growing up I had a wonderful German Shepherd, and I never seriously contemplated owning a cat. But, I always promised myself that if I did ever get a cat, he would be jet black from the tips of his ears to the bottoms of his paws. There's just something about them that draws me in. So what more perfect Halloween interlude than to examine the superstition surrounding Halloween and
Throughout history, the attitude towards cats in general has been one of dueling extremes. In ancient times, particularly in Egypt and Rome, cats were revered. In Egypt, they were the earthly representatives of the goddess Bastet, while in Rome, they were often worshiped as household gods. The ancient Christians had a tradition that a tabby cat kept the baby Jesus warm when he was born, and in gratitude, the Virgin Mary bestowed the characteristic "M" on his forehead.
But during the Dark and Middle Ages, this began to change. In 1232, the Pope suggested that cats might in fact be agents of the Devil. Although no one is sure what caused this shift in attitudes, the fact that cats are nocturnal animals with highly reflective eyes that seem to glow and aloof demeanors probably didn't help matters any! Many cats were burned at the stake along with their owners during medieval witch hunts. One high-profile example in the 17th century was the story of Charles I and his favorite cat, which happened to be black. Charles I was very attached to his kitty, so the story goes, and even assigned guards for its protection. When it died, he allegedly exclaimed that his luck had gone, and the very next day, he was arrested. His subsequent execution resulted in the (temporary) overthrow of the British monarchy, and only did more damage to the reputation of black cats. In the latter part of the 17th century, New England witch hunters in Salem and elsewhere became convinced that cats, particularly black ones, were familiars -- that is, the spirits in animal form that collude with and assist witches. These early attitudes gave rise to most of the black cat superstitions we are familiar with today, such as: having bad luck if a black cat crosses your path; a black cat at a funeral meaning another family member will die; and just the general bad luck that was believed to follow black cats around. It also gave rise to the classic Halloween icon of a black cat silhouette.
Even though we live in modern times, some superstitions unfortunately die hard, because a study in the Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science looking at adoption rates in CA animal shelters found that black cats have the lowest adoption rate out of all coat colors. All Halloween playfulness aside, this is heartbreakingly unfortunate for all the sweet black kitties out there that desperately need love. If you're ever in a position to welcome a cat into your home, and you have a choice of a black one, please seriously consider taking him or her since statistics show that it is unlikely that someone else will come along to adopt him. :-(
And now, back to baking!
Cinnamon Apple Bread
This recipe is ridiculously easy. So easy that I hardly have any pics to go with the post. First, start with some apples. I used Fuji exclusively, because that is what looked good at the orchard, but generally I like to have a mix of apples. Either dice them up or shred them using the biggest openings on your shredder. I chose to shred because it goes quickly, and I always get lazy when I'm dicing, and I end up with progressively larger and larger pieces...
Mix a little lemon juice into those cut apples, to slow down the oxidation (browning).
Pre-combine the dry ingredients: flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and spices. A note about the sugar: I've made this bread using a variety of sugar amounts, from 1 cup to 3 cups, which is why there is a range in the recipe listed below. It depends on what taste you are going for. 1 cup of sugar is hardly sweet at all, and would pair well with a glaze or icing. 2 cups is moderately sweet, and 3 (what the original recipe called for) is very sweet, like apple pound cake. I personally like 2 cups the best, half brown and half white, but that is my tastebuds. My husband prefers 1 cup.
Beat the eggs together with oil and water in a separate bowl, then mix in the apples (and nuts if you want them).
Combine the dry and wet ingredients together.
Then, take 2-9x5" loaf pans, spray them with butter spray, and line the bottom with parchment. Spraying before you put the parchment on the bottom helps it to stick to the metal. Then give the top of the parchment a little spray as well. Don't skip the parchment step, believe me, I only tell you to parchment-line something if it is really necessary. Then, divide the batter between the two loaf pans, and bake at 350F for about 50 minutes (as a range, I'd say anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour). Keep baking until a tester comes out clean.
Cool in the pan for ten minutes before de-panning and cooling fully.
This bread is a yummy and fragrant bit of Fall, studded with apples and walnuts, and swirled with spices. It would probably be delicious with a caramel glaze, but that involved going to the store, so I didn't bother. As-is, however, 2 loaves got devoured in a single day at my work. If you have apples, and you want to make more than just pies and crisps, consider making this bread!
Cinnamon Apple Bread
- 2 C apples, shredded
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 4 eggs
- 1 C vegetable oil
- 1/3 C water
- 3-1/4 C AP flour
- 2 C sugar (1C brown, 1C white)
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 C nuts, pecans or walnuts
- Preheat oven to 350F
- Shred or dice apples, and mix with lemon juice
- Beat together eggs, oil, and water. Stir in apples and nuts
- Combine flour, sugar, salt, baking soda and spices in separate bowl
- Combine wet and dry ingredients
- Line the bottoms of two 9x5" loaf pans with parchment, and spray bottom and sides of pans
- Divide batter evenly between 2 pans and bake for about 50-60 minutes, until tester comes out clean
- Cool in pan for ten minutes, then de-pan