My cousin Sarah and I are more like sisters than cousins. We grew up in the same town, living just a couple miles apart. Each of our houses was the other's second home. Well, OK, a lot more time was spent at her house in the summer, since it was the one with the pool!
Sarah moved to Boston almost 9 years ago for college, and has been here ever since. She loves it! And having her so close has made the whole moving 240 miles away from home thing a bit easier for me. But in the 6 weeks that I've lived here, would you believe we hadn't found any time to get together until yesterday?!? It's all her fault -- she's been far too busy for me, what with finishing up her first year of med school and all. Kidding. Well, kidding about it being her fault, but not about med school. I'm so proud of her!!! =) Anyway -- she finished finals on Friday, and finally got to come see me and the apartment yesterday. Yay! Company! What else could I do but bake for the occasion?!?
I knew I wanted a quick bread to serve with some tea. I love quick breads... but I rarely find a recipe that seems just right. After much reading of cookbooks and searching the internet, I found the perfect recipe at allrecipes.com (where else? I don't know why I even own cookbooks!).
Spiced Applesauce Bread
1 1/4 cups applesauce (I used unsweetened)
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil (I'm fresh out, so I used melted shortening. It worked.)
3 tablespoons milk
2 cups all-purpose flour (I used 1 cup AP, 1 cup whole-wheat)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a 9x5 inch loaf pan.
In a large bowl, combine the applesauce, sugar, oil, eggs and milk; beat well. Sift in the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and salt; stir until smooth. Fold in the pecans. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan.
Bake in preheated oven for 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into center of the loaf comes out clean.
I had a bit of a brain cramp and forgot to take pictures of the bread before it was gone (the leftovers were great for breakfast... and snacks... and, well, anytime...). But trust me -- it was beautiful... and oh-so-tasty! Sarah liked it, and it was a great complement to the fruity black tea we drank. It had a perfect balance of sweet and tart from the applesauce, and the spices added a touch of warmth. It's really hard to go wrong with that apple-spice combination, isn't it? I'm sure I'll be baking this bread again (and again, and again!), so I'll be sure to post pictures next time.
This is really turning into a baking blog, isn't it? Well, baking is what I love best! Plus, with Kevin working the 3 - 11 shift at the station, we never get to have supper together, so I'm not doing an awful lot of cooking cooking. There's a lot of spaghetti, sandwiches, and cereal being eaten in this house. Embarrassing but true. But at least the sandwiches are being eaten on homemade bread!
Speaking of homemade bread, this is what happens when, on a humid (but blissfully cool!) day, you let your bread machine make your dough, and you forget to feel the dough partway through the process to check the water/flour balance:
OK, so that picture doesn't quite give the full effect. But this one does:
Kinda looks like a mushroom (the name of which eludes me right now), doesn't it? So, the dough has too much water, or not enough flour, depending on your view of things. It comes out too soft and sticky and the top of the loaf sinks while baking. But, much like my crazy multigrain bread, it still tastes good! This is a recipe I have made several times, usually with a bit more success...
For what, you ask? For pointing out that I can roast marshmallows over the open flames that my gas stove shoots out!
Yes, this is the first time in my entire life that I've ever had a gas stove.
And yes, I know that commercial marshmallows contain gelatin, of which I am generally deathly afraid. Let me just say that I've never claimed to be a perfect vegetarian. Everyone needs a good toasted marshmallow once in a while. I hate them raw, however.
Hmmm... do you think I should have used a bigger pan? I don't know what I was thinking that day! I know perfectly well that a pound and a half of bread dough needs a 9x5 pan, not an 8x4!
Actually, I do know what I was thinking. The dough didn't rise much during its first proof, so I figured it wouldn't rise much during the second, either. I used more whole-wheat flour and less bread flour than the recipe calls for. I thought it would just be a nice, dense, seedy-grainy loaf. Obviously I was wrong. But it still tasted good! This is one of my favorite breads, adapted from Tony Lacalamita's "The All-New Ultimate Bread Machine Cookbook."
makes 1 1-1/2 pound loaf
1 cup water
1 extra-large egg (I used a large egg, and it worked out fine!)
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1-1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp honey
1/4 cup flax seeds (I grind mine slightly in the blender to release all that Omega-3 goodness)
2 tbsp yellow cornmeal, coarsely ground
2 tbsp rolled oats
2-1/4 cups bread flour (I use 1 to 1-1/2 cups)
3/4 cup whole-wheat flour (I use 1-1/2 to 2 cups, depending on how much bread flour I used)
2 tbsp rye flour
2-1/4 tsp dry yeast
Mix and bake in bread machine on basic cycle, normal or medium crust, or prepare dough in machine and bake in oven, in a 9x5 pan, at 350 for 35 - 45 minutes.
This was our weekly bread a couple of weeks ago. Last week, I used the 2-pound recipe and baked two loaves in 8x4 pans. They came out perfectly. =)
Up next... humidity and bread baking -- an interesting combination!