Cinnamon Apple Bread

bread(Sorry for the atrocious pictures…soon I’ll be back at home with my brother for the holidays and you’ll get some quality photos, I promise!)

Those of you who are avid readers might remember a recipe way back in 2012 for Apple Cinnamon Bread. Actually, I would be quite impressed if anyone does remember…I’m sure you all have better things to keep track of than my recipe arsenal! The reason I bring it up is to erase any kind of confusion between the two recipes. That back then was Apple Cinnamon Bread. This right now is Cinnamon Apple Bread. No, there is no logical reason for the ordering of the words; I just didn’t want two identical-sounding recipes. Because these are not the same bread. Not at all. The Apple Cinnamon Bread from 2012 consisted of a fragrant, cinnamon-spiced quick bread filled with chunks of juicy apple and topped with a crunchy cinnamon-sugar crust. It had a soft, tender, coarse crumb and was bursting with the flavors of fresh apple pie. My house smelled incredible while it was baking!

The Cinnamon Apple Bread from 2014 consists of a sweet, vanilla-scented bread layered with a thick cinnamon swirl and diced apples. It also has a soft, tender, coarse crumb and is bursting with the flavors of fresh apple pie. My apartment also smelled incredible while it was baking! As you can see, although the two breads are pretty different (one is a cinnamon bread with apple chunks and a crunchy topping; one is a plain vanilla bread swirled with ribbons of cinnamon-sugar and diced apple) you can’t go wrong either way!bread2

Despite the fact that every store in the country seems to have jumped straight from Halloween to Christmas, IT IS STILL AUTUMN. To me, November is very much a fall month. Thanksgiving is still two weeks away, the sidewalks are still covered with orange and red leaves, and our windowsill is still lined with about 40,000 tiny pumpkins and gourds. Yesterday JC Penney had Christmas music playing in their shoe section, and I was forced to jam my earbuds into my ears and blast non-Christmas music to drown out the premature rendition of Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmastime.” Make no mistake–I am a Christmas FANATIC–but not until December. Right now it’s just wrong. Shame on you, JC Penney DJ.

Help acknowledge these last few weeks of autumn by baking a loaf of Cinnamon Apple Bread! Your kitchen will smell like an apple pie, and the resulting bread is soft, sweet, and fabulous. Cinnamon-apple is one of my favorite combos, especially when it’s layered into a tender loaf cake. The holidays will be here soon enough, but there’s definitely enough time for one last fall recipe….i.e. this bread!bread3

Cinnamon Apple Bread

1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed

1 & 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/4 cup butter, at room temperature

2/3 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs, at room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 & 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 & 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 cup Greek yogurt (or sour cream)

1/2 cup milk

1 large apple, peeled and diced (I used a mixture of Gala and Granny Smith)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9″x5″ loaf pan.

In a small bowl, whisk together the brown sugar and cinnamon. Set aside. In a larger bowl, beat together the butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Add in the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides as needed. Beat in the vanilla until smooth.

Add in half the flour and the baking powder, mixing briefly. Beat in the yogurt and milk, then the rest of the flour. Mix just until no flour streaks remain.

Pour half the batter into the prepared pan. Scatter half of the diced apples evenly onto the batter, then use a spoon to lightly press them down. Sprinkle half of the brown sugar/cinnamon mixture on top of the apples. Pour the remaining batter over the top, followed by the rest of the apples and the rest of the brown sugar/cinnamon. Press everything down lightly, then bake for 50-55 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Let the bread cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack to cool completely.

(Recipe adapted from The Happier Homemaker)

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Chocolate Chip Gingerbread

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Lights are being put up, Christmas music is appearing on the radio, and the calendar is quickly approaching December. My family and I chopped down our Christmas tree over Thanksgiving break and I’ve started making my Christmas list. My car also smells amaaaazing because I sold three wreaths as part of our senior-class fundraiser and they hung out in my car for a couple days. Fresh pine is about a million times better than any car freshener!

I know it’s only November 25, but I just couldn’t wait to get started on Christmas-y things!  Thanksgiving is over so Christmas is fair game, right? Right.

Start off your holiday baking with this Chocolate Chip Gingerbread! I made it last year and immediately bookmarked the recipe to make again. The addition of chocolate to warm, spicy gingerbread is a match made in heaven, and the tiny pockets of melted chocolate chips are to die for. And the recipe makes two loaves, which means you can give one to a friend! That way you can spread some holiday cheer…and also keep yourself from single-handedly devouring two loaves of warm delicious chocolate gingerbread. Which could definitely happen. It’s a win-win!

Chocolate Chip Gingerbread 

Makes 2 loaves

2 1/2 cups + 2 Tbs all-purpose flour, divided

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground allspice

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 1/4 cups granulated sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 large eggs

1 cup molasses

1 cup very hot water

1 12-oz package miniature chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two 9″x5″ loaf pans.

Toss chocolate chips with 2 Tbs flour in a small bowl. Set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together 2 1/2 cups flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt, and spices.

Using an electric mixer, in a large bowl, beat together the butter, sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add in the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl as needed. In a small bowl or 4-cup measuring cup, whisk together the molasses and hot water. Alternately add in 1/3 of the molasses mixture, 1/3 of the flour mixture, another 1/3 of the molasses mixture, another 1/3 of the flour mixture, the remaining molasses mixture, and the remaining flour mixture, beating after each addition. Fold in chocolate chips.

Divide batter between the two loaf pans and bake for 55-60 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Tops should be set and firm but not dry. Let bread cool in the pan for 20 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Serve with whipped cream for a special treat.

(Recipe from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe)

Grandmother’s Famous Cranberry Bread

I first read the book Cranberry Thanksgiving when I was about 5 years old.  Being an aspiring little baker and a cranberry lover at an early age, it quickly became one of my favorite books.  For those of you who don’t know the story, the Cranberry series is set on a cranberry bog in New England and features a little girl, Maggie, who lives with her old-fashioned grandmother, named Grandmother (oddly enough).  Mr. Whiskers, Maggie’s good friend and an ex-sea captain, lives close by near the beach and is always being scolded by Grandmother for his disheveled appearance and unrefined manners although he’s actually very warm-hearted.  The books are short, sweet, and funny, with a story for every occasion.  Cranberry Christmas, Cranberry Birthday, and Cranberry Easter are some favorites of mine.  In all honesty though, Cranberry Thanksgiving remains my very favorite.

In the book, Grandmother has a top-secret recipe for cranberry bread that she keeps hidden behind a brick in the fireplace.  As a little girl I was enthralled with the idea of having a special recipe that no one could know about, and you can imagine my delight when I discovered the secret recipe for Grandmother’s Famous Cranberry Bread featured on the last page of the book!  To my five-year-old mind it was like uncovering the lost city of Atlantis.

Almost every November since then, I’ve pulled out our worn copy of Cranberry Thanksgiving and flipped to the flour-stained recipe at the back.  My mom and I, and sometimes my brother and dad, would set ourselves up with knives and cutting boards and chop up cupfuls of cranberries to bake into a loaf or two of the famous cranberry bread.  I can remember the year I was finally allowed to use a sharp knife, the year I baked the bread all by myself from start to finish, and the year I baked it in a new kitchen after moving to Washington.  I’ve made it with the suggested mixture of cranberries and golden raisins, with cranberries and regular raisins, with cranberries and nuts, and my personal favorite, with all 3 cups of nothing but cranberries.  It still tastes the same every year, and fills the kitchen with the familiar smell of sweet-tart cranberries and freshly grated orange zest.  There’s nothing like a warm piece of cranberry bread with a cup of tea in the morning, and it would also be a perfect addition to your Thanksgiving dessert table!  Here comes the recipe…you should feel very honored because after all, it’s not top-secret for nothing. 🙂

Grandmother’s Famous Cranberry Bread

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup granulated sugar

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1/4 cup butter, cut into small pieces

1 large egg, beaten

1 tsp grated orange zest

3/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (from about 3 large oranges)

1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries, chopped

1 1/2 cups golden raisins (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease or spray a 9x5x3″ loaf pan.  Set aside.

Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.  Cut in the butter until crumbly using a pastry blender, two knives, or your hands.  Add in the egg, orange zest, and orange juice, mixing until just combined.  Fold in the cranberries and raisins.

Spread the batter into the prepared loaf pan.  Bake for 60-70 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.  Cool for 15 minutes in the pan, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.  Slice and serve.

(Recipe adapted from the book Cranberry Thanksgiving by Wende and Harry Devlin)

Quick and Easy Pumpkin Bread

Today I’m going to share with you one of my favorite fall recipes.  Every October, my dad and brother start to get excited because they know it’s coming.  I start stocking up on the ingredients I need to make it because it usually makes several appearances throughout the fall months.  It’s great because it can be made in the form of cookies, muffins, or bread, with no changes except for the baking time and type of pan.  I’m sure that it will be no surprise to hear that this recipe is for….drumroll please…PUMPKIN BREAD!

I know, I know, all that build-up for something as simple and generic as pumpkin bread.  I’m sure you all thought that I had some super-fancy-knock-your-socks-off recipe for an amazing dessert that no one has ever heard of, but nope.  Not the case.  (Not that you didn’t already know that this post is about pumpkin bread, given the title and gigantic picture at the top…)

But don’t run away, because I was serious when I said that this is one of my favorites.  Big time.  Mainly because this bread turns out perfectly spiced, super moist, and ultimately delicious every time.  And like I said before, the same exact batter can be made into cookies or muffins, if you so desire.  It’s just like magic, kinda sorta.  There are so many good things going on with this bread that I hate to tell you the list of ingredients that it requires.  Such a wonderful bread must have some catch, right?  So please be willing to keep an open mind as I list off all the ingredients you must have to make this piece of food art:

1 can of pumpkin.  1 box of spice cake mix.

Honestly.  It’s that easy.  And I won’t lie and say that it’s better than your Grandma’s famous homemade pumpkin bread or the secret recipe for pumpkin cookies that’s been passed down in your family for generations or whatever, but it’s prettttty darn good.  Good enough to make multiple times in a single month, get raving reviews every time, and make an eighteen-year-old brother squeal like a little girl.  If that doesn’t sell you on it, I don’t know what will.

Quick and Easy Pumpkin Bread

1 15-oz can pumpkin puree

1 box spice cake mix

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease an 8″x4″ loaf pan.

Combine pumpkin and cake mix in a large bowl.  Spread batter into the prepared pan and bake for 50-60 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.  Let the bread cool in its pan for 15 minutes.

Run a knife along the edges of the bread, and invert onto a wire cooling rack.  Cool completely before slicing.  Serve plain or with whipped cream for an especially delicious treat.

Pumpkin Cookies variation: 

Prepare as above, except form the dough into balls and place on lined or lightly greased cookie sheets.  Bake for 8-10 minutes or until tops bounce back when lightly touched.

Pumpkin Muffins variation:

Prepare as above, except scoop the batter into lined muffin tins.  These really won’t rise, so you can fill them almost all the way.  Bake for 22-25 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.  Makes 18-24 muffins.

More Variations:

I’ve made this recipe using carrot cake mix instead of spice, and it turns out great as well.  Add in 2 cups of dark chocolate chips if you’re feeling especially naughty.

 

Apple Cinnamon Bread

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

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)

Topping:

2 Tbs brown sugar

1 Tbs granulated sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

Directions:

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.

Yield: 1 large loaf

(Recipe adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod)

Biscoff Swirled Banana Bread

I’ve discovered that some foods, while delicious on their own, are about 10,000 times better when they are combined together.  Peanut butter and jelly, coconut and lime, raspberry and white chocolate, blueberry and lemon, chocolate and peanut butter, mint and chocolate, apple and cinnamon, the list goes on and on.  Literally on and on, as in I’m still thinking of more delicious combinations and I’d better stop right now or I’m going to lose readers because this post is going to consist entirely of my favorite flavor combinations and nothing else.  Moving on….

When I invested in a few jars of Biscoff Spread last month, I immediately began brainstorming ways of how to incorporate it into my baking.  I had to think quickly because I knew that if I didn’t act quickly, both jars would fall prey to being spread onto apples and graham crackers, stuffed into sandwiches, and eaten by the spoonful, thus my baking projects would be sadly void of Biscoff Spread.  I couldn’t let that happen, so I decided to start off with Biscoff White Chocolate Chip Blondies, which were a winning choice for sure.

Then the question came of what to make next with my beloved new friend…cookies?  Cupcakes?  And then it came to me, as I spied a bunch of ripe bananas sitting on the counter.  I just knew that Biscoff and bananas were meant to be together, and it was up to me to make that happen.  I had been planning on making Buttermilk Banana Bread (see link below) for quite some time, since it appeared to be different than any banana breads I’ve made in the past.  While I’ve always been a big proponent for classic dense, moist, dark-flecked banana bread, this bread looked invitingly light in color and texture.  The perfect vehicle to be swirled with sweet, cinnamony Biscoff Spread.

Proud of my newfound food matchmaking skills, I got right to work.  I hid 3 bananas in my baking cupboard (there was absolutely no chance that they would survive to the point of over-ripeness while lying in plain sight on the counter), picked up some buttermilk at the store, and waited until my bananas were nice and brown.  Then I mixed up the banana bread batter, swirled in the Biscoff, and baked it up.  The result?  I think I’ve found a new favorite combination…Biscoff and banana 🙂  The tender, moist bread was bursting with banana flavor and the gooey ribbon of warm, spicy-sweet Biscoff took it up to another level.  This bread confirmed it; banana and Biscoff are most definitely soul mates!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Biscoff Swirled Banana Bread

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened

1 cup white sugar

2 large eggs

1 1/2 cups mashed bananas (about 3 large or 4 medium bananas)

1/4 cup buttermilk

1/2 tsp vanilla

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/8 tsp baking soda

1/3 cup Biscoff cookie spread

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease and flour a large loaf pan (9.25″ x 5.25″).  Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add in the eggs, mashed bananas, buttermilk, and vanilla and beat until well-combined.  Stir in the flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda until the batter is evenly mixed.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan.  Drop the Biscoff Spread by spoonfuls onto the batter.  Using a knife, gently swirl in the Biscoff to create a marbled effect, but be careful not to mix it in too much.  Bake for 50-60 minutes or toothpick comes out clean.

Let the bread cool in its pan for at least 20 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack.  Cool, slice, and enjoy!

(Recipe adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe)