As fall draws to a close, I, like many North-Westerners, still possess a stash of recently harvested apples — a bag of apples — awaiting their fate in my fridge. In my case, friends bestow their bounty on me annually rather than feed the local bruin population and risk losing their McIntosh or Empire trees. Or, they share them with me simply because they know I like to tinker in the kitchen.
Since I can’t bear to let good food go to waste, especially if it’s free, I typically say when asked if I’d like some, “Sure, I’ll take a bag.”
Back at home, though, alone with my hefty sack of apples I always wonder why I voluntarily put myself in the position of transforming so much fruit into edible creations before they turn mushy.
I figure I must need a culinary challenge because I take this one on every year.
Inevitably, by the time I’m done with pie-making, applesauce canning, and pureeing batches of butternut squash-apple soup, the idea of peeling one more Lodi or Rome apple doesn’t seem so alluring anymore. That’s when I pull out my 45-year-old copy of Beard on Bread and turn to page 179, the recipe for Raw Apple Bread.
Replete with decades of stains, smudges, and scribbled notations, this page of the book contains the directions for a fragrant, buttery loaf that has become one of my go-to autumn treats. Like a trusted old friend, it has never let me down. Best of all, it requires no peeling of apples, which fast-tracks the preparation.
Additionally, this bread is even better after it has sat intact for 24 hours, which allows the flavor to mature. That makes it ideal for gift giving in the holiday season if you care to do some advance baking. Be warned, however, that the tantalizing aroma wafting around the house will make it all the harder to resist cutting a piece beforehand.
Aside from loving this bread sliced fresh from the loaf for an afternoon snack, I enjoy it just as much toasted for breakfast or topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for dessert.
Among its other virtues is the fact that it’s simple enough for kiddos to make, if they are so inclined. Take 12-year-old Frances Amend for instance, who feels very much at home donning an apron before measuring and stirring in her family’s kitchen. When she wanted something quick to put together for her parents and brother, she decided to try this recipe. Here is her report:
“I knew we had a plethora of apples around our farm, so I made the apple bread. It came out perfect. The whole family devoured a loaf in minutes! It was easy, too, because it doesn’t require a mixer, and made the house smell wonderful. The bread was moist and very delicious.”
Lastly, if you like to double or triple recipes to use up those apples sooner rather than later, you could tuck away one or more loaves in the freezer for some future time should you happen to go into apple deprivation mode.
That’s when you thank yourself for all that hard work you put in during the fall and thank your friends, once again, for their generosity. You may even feel magnanimous enough to gift them with one of your remaining loaves. But don’t count on it.
Raw Apple Bread
(Adapted from Beard on Bread by James Beard)
- ½ cup butter, softened
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large or extra-large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 tablespoons buttermilk
- 1 cup coarsely chopped, unpeeled apples
- ½ cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans
In a large bowl, cream butter, and gradually add sugar. Beat until fluffy. Blend in eggs and vanilla. Sift dry ingredients, and stir into creamed mixture alternating with the buttermilk. Begin and end with the dry ingredients. Fold apples and nuts into the batter. Spoon into a buttered 9- or 10 X 5 X 3-inch loaf pan and bake for 50-60 minutes at 350 degrees. When done, the loaf will pull away slightly from the pan’s sides, and a toothpick inserted in the center will test clean. Cool loaf 5 minutes before loosening and turning it out from the pan. Let cool completely on a rack before slicing. MSN