I go in fits and spurts with baking. Sometimes I bake everyday. Sometimes I go for months without baking a thing. I bet if I plotted it out on a grid I’d find that there is a strong correlation between cold weather and my baking activities. We’ve had a wet and cold winter in California, though nothing close to what the East Coast has experienced. Man, it’s been wet, wild, and wooly this winter. On a cold day it’s hard to beat a warm oven and the smell of something baking. I find quick breads an appealing art form. Once you get the hang of the right ratio of flour to wet ingredients, etc… there is literally no end to the variations that are possible. My kids and I have a soft spot for things made with applesauce. You can make your own, I often do – see my prior posts on applesauce and cranberry applesauce, or you can buy some. If you aren’t going to make your own, get the organic applesauce with as little sugar as possible.
Applesauce Sour Cream Quick Bread (two loaves)
- 1 cup unsalted butter, or cubed margarine, softened
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 4 eggs
- 2 cups applesauce
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon allspice
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 Granny Smith Apple, peeled, cored & thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons melted butter
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon allspice
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour two loaf pans.
In the bowl of a stand mixer cream together butter (or margarine) and sugar. Once it is creamy add the vanilla extract and the lemon juice. Add the eggs, one at a time. Break your eggs into a separate bowl before you add them to the batter. Why? ‘Cause every once in a while you’ll come upon a bad egg and you don’t want to discover it AFTER you’ve added to the butter and flour. I know some of you WILD risk takers are going to just dump those eggs straight into the butter/sugar mixture. Don’t come crying to me when you come across that one nasty, totally rotten egg… I’ll just say, “I told you so.”
With the stand mixer running add in the applesauce and the sour cream. In a separate medium-sized bowl whisk together the salt, flour, baking soda, baking powder and the spices. Once you have the dry ingredients blended add them to the rest of the batter in three additions. I find this is much easier to do in a big bowl rather than the stand mixer. My mixer just isn’t big enough.
Have I mentioned how much I love my stand mixer? I was given it as a gift when I left my first job as a research assistant in Washington D.C. in 1988. They offered me other options as a going away present, but I asked for a stand mixer. Gotta luv 24 year-old me – already focused on home baking! Anyway, I bought a new one a few months ago, just in case this one finally gave out – and the new one (a fancy Cuisinart) doesn’t work nearly as well as the 23 year-old one. I now live in fear of the old one dying knowing full well how much less good the new one will be.
Mix the spices for the apple garnish with the melted butter and brown sugar. Take your sliced apples and dip them in the butter/spice mixture. Lay them in a pretty pattern (or an ugly one – I leave that up to you) in the bottom of each of your two loaf pans. Pour the batter into the two loaf pans on top of the pretty apple slices.
Bake in the middle of the oven for 50-55 minutes until a tester stuck in the middle of each loaf comes out clean. Cool in pans for ten minutes. Remove from pans and flip the loaves out onto plates with the bottom side up, just like an upside down cake, so that you can see the pretty apple slices on the top. Voila! So nice! Enjoy.