Monday, January 17, 2011

Distracted Baking

My sister Laura has been helping me work on some things lately, and has responded to every scatterbrained email, g-chat, and BBM very quickly and with lots of great advice. She's in the middle of her third year of a PhD program at UVA, and is also preparing to be an adjunct professor for this upcoming semester. Needless to say, she's very busy. Despite her ever growing to-do list, she always takes time for her little sister, which is so appreciated! Love you Laura! So I thought I should send her some goodies as thanks. I asked what she wanted for her first installment of baked goods, and she requested something healthy. So cookies are temporarily out. I found this recipe for Baked Apple Oatmeal bread (well, that's what I'm calling it) and saw a lot of potential for great taste and healthful swaps. 

I first wanted to do a test-run (sending a half-baked loaf of inedible bread isn't really the "thank you" I was going for) - and on this test run I found that this recipe is great, but its also important to pay attention when baking! My mind was a few steps ahead of my body on this, so I forgot some things in the batter, had to remove from the oven, re-mix, and then bake. Despite the issues, the bread still came out great, and I'll be making it for Laura in the next day or two.

Baked Apple Oatmeal Bread
(I found the original recipe here, but swapped out the oils and whole milk for healthier alternatives)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Prepare bread topping (chopped walnuts, dark brown sugar and cinnamon):

Chop dried fruit. I used dried apples from Trader Joe's.

Combine wet ingredients. Stir with whisk.

Combine dry ingredients. Stir with whisk.

Measure 1/2 tsp of the dry ingredients and add to chopped fruit. Mix until fruit is coated.


Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients. Stir with a rubber spatula until just combined (don't over mix).

Spray your loaf pan with baking spray (or coat with butter and cover with a thin layer of flour).

Add chopped fruit and fold into batter.

Pour batter into loaf pan.

Cover with topping, gently pressing down so it sticks to batter.

Put in oven to bake. Then realize that you forgot to add the OATS in the Baked Apple OATmeal Bread! It had only been in the oven for four minutes, so I figured that I could save the bread. I grabbed it out of the oven and did my best to scrape the topping off the bread (the brown sugar had already started to melt).
Pour the batter back into the large mixing bowl, and add the oats.

Pour batter back into the loaf pan, and spread semi-melted topping over the batter.

Now bake for 60-65 minutes. When top is browned and knife inserted comes out clean, remove from oven. Put loaf pan on cooling rack for five minutes to cool, then remove from pan and continue to cool until it reaches room temperature. 

I never wait for things to cool before trying them, but the original creator of this recipe warned against cutting into it before it cooled. Since I already messed up the bread once, I decided to let it cool all the way, lest I do any more damage.

A little while later...

This bread came out really well. It was very moist (from the applesauce and canned pumpkin) and the dried apple pieces baked into delicious bites. Pat tried it (after cutting off the nuts on top) and said that he liked it, but he's not much of a fruit-in-bread person. Kathryn and Steph both tried some and said that they liked it a lot. I am going to make this for Laura, and will also definitely make it in the future (I bet it would freeze well, too).

For the Topping:
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
For the Bread:
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/3 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/4 cup skim milk
  • 1 1/4 cups flour (3/4 cups all-purpose and 1/2 cup whole wheat)
  • 3/4 cup sugar (I ran out so used 1/4 cup sugar and 1/2 cup granulated Splenda)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • pinch of ground cloves (I didn't have so I used pumpkin pie spice instead)
  • 1/2 cup dried apples, chopped
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  1. Center a rack in oven and preheat to 350 degrees. 
  2. To make topping - in a small bowl, toss together the brown sugar, nuts and cinnamon until well mixed. Set aside.
  3. Whisk together eggs, applesauce, pumpkin and milk until well blended. 
  4. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and pumpkin pie spice (or cloves). Remove 1/2 tsp of the dry mix and toss with dried fruit to coat. Set dried fruit aside. 
  5. Stir the oats into the bowl of dry ingredients. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir  with a rubber spatula until just moistened (don't over mix). Add the dried fruit to batter and fold in to blend.
  6. Pour the batter into a loaf pan that has been sprayed with baking spray (or buttered and lightly floured). Add the topping to the loaf and press lightly with your fingers to make it stick. 

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