Apple Nut Bread Recipe

Finished Apple Nut Bread “Bread makes itself, by your kindness, with your help, with imagination running through you, with dough under hand, you are breadmaking itself.” As an amateur baker, I found this benign passage from the first pages of The Tassajara Bread Book both inspiring and completely unrelatable.

Bread making is an art, its methods abstract, its conditions precise, its instruments – namely the yeast – unaccommodating. Over the last half-year since I so enthusiastically purchased a bread machine, my “kindness,” “help,” and “imagination” have produced unrisen lumps with the consistency of mashed potatoes, doughy rolls baked only halfway through, and many, many loaves of just dry, crumbly bread. Nevertheless, my occasional successes and cravings for the aroma of oven-fresh bread (and it will always smell good, no matter how it ends up tasting) continue to renew my efforts.

Below is a simple recipe from the same book, yielding one loaf of apple nut bread, with a fragrance of orange zest and honey (though not so much of apple). The bread is very moist (almost like a muffin), and the nuts add a nice crunch to the texture.

Apple Nut Loaf (Yeasted) – from The Tassajara Bread Book

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon yeast (try to use active dry yeast when baking bread)
¼ cup sweet cider (lukewarm, or about 100-110° F)
½ cup honey (You can use as little as ¼ cup, if you like your bread less sweet)
¼ cup oil
2 beaten eggs
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon finely chopped orange zest (about as much as you can get from lightly running a grater over the surface of 1 orange)
2 cups whole wheat flour (I used half white, half wheat, for a softer loaf)
2 cups raw apples with skins, grated (or about 2 whole apples, minus the cores)
½ cup nuts, coarsely chopped (I went with walnuts)
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon (optional)

Directions:

Add the yeast to the cider and briefly stir to soften the yeast. Let it sit for about 10 minutes. If you don’t have cider, you can boil apple juice (~ ½ cup) with some brown sugar (~ 1 teaspoon), cinnamon (~ ½ teaspoon), and orange zest (~ ½ teaspoon) for 15-20 minutes to reduce it and enhance the flavor. Measure out the right amount of the mixture, and be sure to let it cool before adding the yeast.

Mix the honey, oil, eggs, salt, vanilla, orange zest, apples, and cinnamon. Add in the yeast mixture and stir to distribute. Stir in the flour and then the nuts. If you have a bread machine, you can add all these ingredients to your machine and let it do the mixing for you.

Oil a loaf pan and pour the mixture into the pan. Cover with a damp paper towel, and let it rise for one hour in a warm place (On a cold day, you can turn the oven on for a few minutes until the temperature reads around 100° F and leave the dough in there to rise). Bake at 350° F for 40-60 minutes. If you have a cooking thermometer, you can test to make sure the internal temperature of the bread is at least 160° F.

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June 18, 2011
By Cat

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