As a little girl, I always dreamed of having fruit trees in my own yard. When I was about six, my family took a trip to a nearby nursery to purchase several small trees for our backyard. What they had in mind, and what we ended up getting, were three little trees, but if had been up to me I would have ordered an orange tree, a lemon tree, and a peach tree. Those were the types I had spied in one of the tree catalogs at the nursery, and no amount of logic (such as the fact that we lived in Colorado, not California) would seem adequate to justify my parents’ gentle “no’s.”
Sadly, I had to make do with the single skinny apple tree that grew next to our patio. After living in our house for seven years, we finally determined its unwavering pattern. Every other summer, the tree would burst with bright pink apple blossoms that ripened into little, green, surprisingly edible apples in the fall. I loved going “apple picking,” though it was usually about 5 minutes and 6 apples later that the apple picking of the season drew to a close. However small our tree’s bounty was, there was still almost always enough for an apple pie. A big piece of homemade apple pie had an uncanny ability to erase my yearns for that lemon tree!
The following year, however, always proved to be a disappointment. For some reason our tree had a switch that turned on one summer and off the next. Without exception, that little apple tree could only handle the strain of producing apples every other year, so every second summer I would gaze sadly up at the spindly, bare branches and wait patiently for the following summer, when it would magically come back to life. I haven’t lived in that house for nine years, but I wouldn’t be surprised if our determined little tree was still chugging (every other year, that is)!
Ironically, our house on the island is also home to a little apple tree, though it’s even weaker than the first. To get the apples that I can’t reach, all I have to do is stand under the branches and shake the trunk (yes, the trunk!) and the ripe ones will fall down. Sometimes right on my head, but that’s beside the point. As small and scrawny as it is, this little tree is just as determined as our old one. It manages to produce a few dozen Granny Smith-esque apples every. single. year. *Gasp* I went out the other day and came in with twenty-two apples, so I decided some baking was in store! Enter this Apple Cinnamon Bread, which is full of fall flavors: cinnamon, a touch of allspice and cloves, and tart chunks of homegrown apple. Add a crunchy brown sugar-cinnamon topping and you’ve got a winner!
Apple Cinnamon Bread
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp ground cloves
2 large eggs
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup granulated sugar
2 cups peeled, diced apples (about 2 medium apples)
2 Tbs brown sugar
1 Tbs granulated sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray an 8″x4″ loaf pan with baking spray. Set aside.
In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, allspice, and cloves. Set aside.
In a large bowl, beat the eggs for about 30 seconds. Add in the oil, applesauce, and vanilla and beat until well-combined. Add in the cup of sugar and mix until smooth.
Gradually add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients, mixing just until incorporated. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the diced apples. Spread batter into prepared pan.
In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, 1 Tbs granulated sugar, and cinnamon. Sprinkle the mixture over the batter in the loaf pan. Bake for 50-55 minutes or until edges are golden-brown and an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
Let the bread cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing onto a wire rack. Cool completely before slicing.
(Recipe adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod)