Brown Butter and Cinnamon Apple Bread

27 Oct

I know I haven’t posted a dinner in ages.  I made this sesame chicken dinner last night, and it was so freaking good.  I also realize that every other dinner I post is from Iowa Girl Eats…here’s what happens: I have all these great ideas, then I go to her blog and she has posted something that looks even better…so I make that instead.

Anyway, you should make that sesame chicken.  I followed the recipe exactly, and her pictures are better than mine would have been.  I especially loved the coating…egg white and cornstarch for a light ‘breading’…perfect and genius!

But I did do something cool this morning: I baked something from a recipe I came up with.  Big deal, guys.

I was thinking pumpkin or banana bread, with tons of fresh apples from an orchard in Charlottesville, and the apple pie I made on Wednesday nearly gone, apple bread it was.

And this bread is AWESOME.  Not just because I crafted the recipe myself…it is soft and moist, but perfectly spongy.  And the flavor!  The cake tastes of cinnamon sugar—but not in an overly sweet way—with subtle undertones of caramel from brown butter.  And the apples are nice little pops of fresh, bright flavor.

Seriously, one of the best things I’ve ever baked.

—-

Alright, start by browning some butter.  My last tutorial was pretty lame, so I decided to try again.  Put your butter in a small saucepan, then onto the stove over low-medium heat.

Stir occasionally.  It will foam up, obscuring your view.  Stirring helps you to see what color your butter is, and for some reason seems to make the process go more quickly.  Still, it shouldn’t take more than a few minutes.

Everyone says you wait for the butter to smell ‘nutty’.  I kind of think that regular melted butter smells nutty, so that’s not much help.  There is a pretty distinct smell change though, so it is a good indicator.  I would go with ‘caramel’ not ‘nutty’ though to describe it.

It also changes color to amber.  Duh.  And develops some light brown flecks in the bottom of the pan.  Those are your best indicators…much easier to see in a lighter colored pan (versus my Ikea cancer pan that I used last time)

Once you see this, remove from heat, and continue to stir.  Not all the butter may look brown yet, but residual heat should get the job done.

Let that cool while you combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl:  all purpose flour, oat flour, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon.

Now assemble the wet ingredients!  My brown butter was still warm, so I added the sugar first to cool it down, then whisked in two eggs, vanilla, and buttermilk.

Pour the wet mix into the dry and stir well to combine.  It will be pretty liquidy.

Then chop up your apples!  (Your batter will thicken a bit as the flours absorb some of the moisture).

My last apple cutting tutorial was also pretty lame, so here it is again: the easiest way to peel and chop apples.

First slice off the top and base, then peel with your knife.  Just carefully follow the curve of your apples with the knife.  Then core and chop.

Easy!  All of your apple sides have nice flat surfaces, making it totally easy to cut these up.

My cubes were pretty small.

Fold into your batter, then pour into a greased loaf pan and into the oven for 30-40 minutes.  The edges may brown a bit, and your top should develop a nice crack, and be cooked through in the center.

Yay!  Look how pretty.  And of course you already saw the inside, but just to convince you you need to make this:

It’s delish.  Cinnamon, sugar, the caramel accents from brown butter, and apples…this is fall at its finest.  Even without any pumpkin =]

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Oh, P.S., for anyone in the way of this MONSTER storm coming through the eastern US…stay safe, stay warm and dry, and Happy (early) Halloween!!

and GO TRIBE!! It’s homecoming weekend at my alma mater…hark upon the gale and then eat some apple bread =]

—-

Brown Butter and Cinnamon Apple Bread
Makes 1 9×5’ loaf

4 T butter
1½ cups all purpose flour
1 cup oat flour (grind dry oats in a food processor or coffee grinder till fine)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
¾ cups brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk*
2 medium-large apples, peeled, cored and chopped into small cubes

  • Preheat the oven to 350 F and grease a 9×5 loaf pan.
  • Begin by browning 4 T of butter in a small saucepan over low heat.  It will smell caramelly, turn amber in color, and develop small flecks in the bottom of the pan.  Remove from heat, and allow to cool for several minutes.
  • While the butter cools, combine both flours, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon in a large bowl.  Whisk to combine.
  • Once the brown butter has cooled slightly, stir the brown sugar into it (this will cool the butter more, so no worries if it’s still relatively warm).  Whisk in the eggs, one at a time, then the vanilla extract, and buttermilk.
  • Slowly pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and stir to combine.  It will be pretty wet.  Set aside while you chop, peel, and core your apples.  This will give time for the flours to absorb some of the moisture.
  • Stir apples into the batter.  Pour batter into a greased 9×5 loaf pan, and into the oven for 30-40 minutes, until the edges are lightly brown and the bread is set in the center.

*I didn’t use real buttermilk for this…I poured one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar into a 1 cup measuring cup, filled it to the top with 2% milk, and let it sit for 5 minutes to thicken into ‘buttermilk’.  Works like a charm.

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