Apple Crumb Loaf
Plenty of apples. Dwindling day light. This Sunday flew by. Next weekend, Halloween. November is creeping closer. Has it really been almost another year?
I have a cheering section, all be it one person, the Italian, Roberto. I thought of him as I decided to yet again re-scale a recipe by one Rose Levy Beranbaum. I'm beginning to see a lot of fuss in her recipes. I don't like fussy. There are certain ways that things should be done when baking, but her descriptions and instructions can be rather anal and bordering on ridiculous at times. Every kitchen is different and perhaps for her recipes to work in her kitchen she had to do certain things like run her mixer at high speed for two minutes while chewing gum and patting her stomach. That's not to say that she doesn't have some interesting and lovely recipes, she does. I just wish that the recipes had been written for real kitchens. You don't get that sort of fuss from Nigella.
So, I found a recipe that uses apples...er...one apple, precisely. I studied the page upon page of instruction, three in all, and realized that I had to go with my gut, which can be billy-goat-esque as well as fragile on occasion. Since I've been baking for quite a long time and there are certain things that I know and know work well in our kitchen, I took what I knew and I simplified her 'Cinnamon Crumb Surprise'. The result, my 'Apple Crumb Loaf'.
One Gala, but not until the last minute...
I pulled out the food processor and pulsed up the the crumb topping. Light brown sugar, granulated sugar, walnuts, cinnamon, all-purpose flour, melted unsalted butter, vanilla extract. Pulse...pulse...pulse. Reserve half cup and the rest went right into the fridge to chill while I pulled out the mixer and combined the butter and sugar, then the créme fraîche, whole large egg, two large egg yolks, and vanilla. To that I dumped in the pre-combined salt, baking soda, baking powder and all-purpose flour. Beat...Beat...Beat.
With the batter resting I buttered and parchment papered the bottom of the 9 1/4" x 5 1/4" loaf pan and tuned the oven to 350°F.
Two thirds of the cake batter on the bottom of the loaf pan followed up with the 1/2 cup of reserved crumb. A quick apple peel and slice. The slices were layered shingle-style. The remaining third of batter was dolloped and dabbed, ultimately spread out with some wet fingers until the apple slices were completely coated. Finally the chilled crumb methodically scattered on top.
The oven at this point was ready. The loaf went in. The timer was set for 60 minutes. I cleaned up. All I could do now was wait.
Waiting wasn't hard. The 60 minutes flew by, like the rest of the day. The cake rose, the crumb browned. I pulled it from the oven and set it out to cool. All the while, Roberto kept busy around the house. Finally wound down from his endeavors, he went for a nap. I can think of nothing better, falling asleep to the warm scent of apple, cinnamon and butter...baking.
We'll patiently wait for it to cool completely. Most likely we'll eat it after our second Sunday dinner which is imminent.
Apple Crumb Loaf
You'll need for the crumb:
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
3/4 cup walnut
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pulse the brown sugar, granulated sugar and walnuts until coarsely chopped. Reserve 1/2 cup. Add in cinnamon, melted unsalted butter and vanilla extract. Pulse until everything is just combined. Transfer to bowl and chill.
You'll need for the batter:
9 tablespoons softened unsalted butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
1/2 cup créme fraîche
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Gala apple, peeled and sliced
Whisk together salt, baking soda, baking powder and all-purpose flour. Set aside.
Beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Add in egg and egg yolks, beat until combined. Add in créme fraîche, beat until well combined.
Add dry mix to wet mix and beat until well combined.
Spread two thirds of batter onto a buttered, parchment lined 9 1/4" x 5 1/4" loaf pan. Sprinkle reserved crumb evenly next. Layer apple, shingle-style. Dollop and dab remaining batter. Wet fingers and spread batter...it's easiest this way because the batter is somewhat thick. Finally, sprinkle chilled crumb evenly.
Bake for 60 minutes at 350°F and share with the one you hold most dear.