Friday, October 18, 2013

Perfect Pumpkin Apple Bread

This Perfect Pumpkin Apple Bread recipe is an autumn orchard’s dream come true. Utilizing the whole hog (aka both the apple trees and the pumpkin patch), this bread combines the best fall has to offer. Whether or not you bake this bread after a day at the orchard, fall will feel ubiquitously present in every bite.
I’m excited to share my photos from last weekend’s apple picking excursion with you. The day was so sunny and beautiful, fall foliage was (almost) at its peak, and the smell of cinnamon spiced apple cider donuts permeated the gentle breeze in the air. It couldn’t be more perfect. Like this bread!
The reason I added the qualifier “perfect” to this recipe is not because its the best pumpkin bread you’ll EVER have in your life. Rather, this recipe is simply reliable. A quick Google search for “pumpkin bread” will yield so many varying results that it’s impossible to avoid option overload and it’s ensuing anxiety. Which one to make?!? Make this one. It’s great.

While clearly more of a cook than a baker, I’ve made this bread more times than I can count. (Someone I like happens to like it very much.) Hailing from Ruth Reichl’s Gourmet, its credentials speak for itself, but I’ll point out the highlights. A simple strudel topping adds a cake-like feel to the bread, which is richly spiced with delicious hints of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and allspice. Dotted cooked apples will create a melt-in-your-mouth effect when you catch one in a bite, but these little gems serve a second purpose in addition to gustatory pleasure: they make the bread’s interior extremely moist, erasing the always-disapointing possibility of a dry pumpkin loaf. (To ensure uniform moistness, you can try grating the apples into the batter rather than adding cubes.)

I have adjusted some of the ingredient amounts from the original recipe. After baking this bread dozens of times, I can assuredly say that there’s WAY too much sugar in the printed version, whole-wheat flour can substitute white to add health without compromising the taste, and up to half of the oil can easily be substituted for applesauce. Maintaining the bread’s integrity but adding some nutrition—a pretty good upgrade for this lovable autumn loaf. 

Perfect Pumpkin Apple Bread (adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook)
Makes 2 Loaves


For topping:
1 Tbs all-purpose or whole-wheat flour
2 Tbs sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 Tbs unsalted butter, softened
For bread:
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups whole-wheat flour
¾  tsp salt
2 tsps baking soda
1 ½ tsps ground cinnamon
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
¼ tsp ground cloves
¼ tsp ground allspice
1 (15-oz) can solid-pack pumpkin
½  cup canola oil
¼ cup apple sauce
1 ¼ cups sugar
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 McIntosh or Empire apples, peeled, cored, and chopped (2 cups)

  1. Make the topping. Blend together flour, sugar, cinnamon, and butter in a small bowl with fingertips.
  2. Make the bread. Preheat oven to 350, and butter two 9 x 5 inch loaf pans. Sift together flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice into a medium bowl. Whisk together pumpkin, oil, sugar, and eggs in a large bowl. Add flour mixture, stirring until well combined. Fold in apples.
  3. Divide batter between buttered loaf pans. Sprinkle half of topping evenly on each loaf. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, for about 50-60 minutes. Cool loaves in pans on a rack for 45 minutes.

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