2 November 2011

Spiced Apple Bread - 'Apfelbrot'


Yes, this looks suspiciously like a Christmas recipe already with its nuts and fruit and cinnamon. With apples as its main ingredient, though, this seems to me seasonal enough even at the beginning of November (subconsciously, of course, this might well be part of the build-up to the excessive Christmas baking I and many of my fellow country folk traditionally engage in from about the middle of November). Apfelbrot is a very old German recipe. This particular combination is my mother’s favourite and in my view it is the best there is. My feelings about dried fruit and raisins have always been ambivalent, but this recipe is the great exception. The bread is juicy and flavourful with none of this sticky toughness of raisins that I usually object to. Whether it should be classified as bread or cake is a matter of perception. There are no added eggs, milk or butter (which means that this bread is vegan) and it is certainly more wholesome than most cakes. Having said this, the Apfelbrot is sweet and rich and goes very well with coffee and tea. It can be eaten as it is, but it tastes particularly good spread with butter.

This makes one very large tin loaf or two smaller breads:

750 g apples, peeled and chopped
250 g Demerara sugar
250g raisins or chopped, mixed fruit

100 g ground almonds
100g roughly chopped hazelnuts
1 large tbsp dark rum
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 pinch of ground cloves

500 g plain flour
20 g baking powder

Mix the chopped apples with the sugar and raisins. Cover with a lid or with cling film and leave to stand overnight or for at least 8 hours. The sugar encourages the apples to release some of their juice so this period of rest is essential – there has to be enough liquid to absorb the rest of the ingredients.

Add the nuts, rum, cocoa and spices to the apple mixture and stir. Finally add the flour and baking powder and mix until all the flour has been absorbed. The juiciness of apples can vary – add some extra liquid (water, rum or apple juice) if the batter is too tough. The batter should be fairly firm and not runny.

Spoon the batter into one large or two smaller loaf tins. Bake at 180 degrees for about one hour or until a stick inserted into the bread comes out clean. The apple bread keeps fresh for a couple of weeks, but it should not be stored in plastic (tin foil or a tin is best).

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