Sunday, 19 September 2010

Baking Sunday: Nutty Apple Loaf

The weather has been typical Edinburgh weather this week - at turns miserable and grey, and then suddenly sunny and gorgeous. It's definitely dropped a few degrees and as a result I've had a wee bit of lurgy. So even though the remains of summer are still hanging on, I'm thinking about cold-weather food - crumbles, pies, roasts, gravy, anything vaguely comforting. I recently went to the Valvona and Crolla food hall at Jenners and picked up some passion fruit curd and savoiardi biscuits so went through a few of my recipe books for an interesting pavlova or tiramisu recipe, when I found something I just had to make. The tiramisu could wait, I needed to make this Apple & Nut Loaf!

There's something about cooking with apples which I associate with comfort food - maybe because they are usually stewed, or crumbles and cakes. Definitely weather-turning-in food. This humble loaf doesn't look like much - it's not flashy and doesn't even get tarted up like a lemon loaf might with some icing or syrup. It just sits on the plate, knowing it tastes damn good. It's full of warm brown sugar flavour, apples, walnuts, cinnamon and a wee bit of dark chocolate. The only downside to this is that the mix needs to be left in the fridge for a few hours, preferably overnight but the result of this is that the apple flavour really infuses into the mix and the loaf is incredibly moist and deliciously more-ish.

Nutty Apple Loaf

175g unsalted butter, at room temperature
140g soft light brown sugar
2 tablespoons strawberry jam
2 eggs
140g plain flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon shelled mixed nuts, chopped
50g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
2 eating apples, peeled, cored and roughly chopped

1.  Put the butter, sugar and jam in a bowl and cream with an electric whisk or paddle attachment until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well and scraping any unmixed ingredients from the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula after each addition.
2.  Sift together the flour, baking powder and cinnamon in a separate bowl, then beat into the butter mixture. Stir the nuts, chocolate and apples into the mixture by hand until evenly dispersed. Cover and refrigerate for a few hours, or overnight if possible.
3.  Preheat the oven to 170 degree Celsius.
4.  Pour the mixture into the prepared loaf tin and smooth over with a knife. Bake in the preheated oven for 50-60 minutes or until brown and the sponge feels firm to the touch. A skewer inserted in the centre should come out clean, but for a little melted chocolate. Leave the cake to cool slightly in the tin before turning our onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.