fat free opinions on a food centric life

Apple Cinnamon Pecan Bread

When you live in San Diego near the coast, it’s easy to have a hankering for a visit to a small, old-fashioned town at this time of year — one you might find on a drive through the mountains and tucked up against the peaks amongst a few pine trees.  In an hour’s time, it’s quite possible to fulfill that desire with a trip to Julian to shop for antiques, enjoy a hearty country meal, and take home a Julian Apple Pie.  Situated just outside the Cleveland National Forest at an elevation of nearly 5,ooo feet, it does snow there from time to time, so if you’re lucky and have chains for your tires, you can check a snow day off your list as well — or better yet — get snowed in so you can stay at one of the cozy B&Bs there.

On the way to Julian, if you blink, you’ll miss the tiny town of Santa Ysabel, but rarely does anyone miss Dudley’s Bakery which has been an institution there for nearly 50 years.  At one point in time, the only way anyone could enjoy their amazing selection of bread was to wait in a line on the weekend with all of the other city dwellers out on a weekend drive.  Now, their bread is available in a wide variety of locations across Southern California.  Lucky for me, our local Henry’s market sells it, and once in a blue moon, I’ll see my favorite Julian Apple Nut bread — a slightly sweet, rich brown boule of bread I love to toast and butter for breakfast.

With that in mind, I decided to make some apple nut bread and was surprised to find that unless I wanted a non-yeasted batter bread, it might not be all that easy.  I wanted chunks of apple, the nice crunch of nuts, and cinnamon, of course.  Something not all that different than a loaded cinnamon roll or even raisin bread  would be perfect — no glaze.

Mmm…

p.s.  I’m supposed to be posting Christmas cookies, but am left posting things I baked before my knee surgery.  With good luck, I’ll be in the kitchen soon, or coerce my husband to do it.  We’ll see!


just a cup of little apples
Apple Cinnamon Pecan Bread

Dough Ingredients

1 c. water

1/2 c. whole milk

1/4 c. unsalted butter

4 c. bread flour

2 tsp. salt

1/4 c. sugar

2-1/4 tsp. active dry yeast

Filling Ingredients

2/3 c. raw sugar or turbinado

4 tsp. cinnamon

2-4 T butter, divided

2 c. apples, peeled, cored, thinly sliced

1 c. pecans

Directions

  1. In the bowl of a standing mixer, combine yeast, 1 cup flour, and remaining dry ingredients.
  2. In a separate container, mix water and milk,  and heat to 110º  F.
  3. Pour the liquid ingredients into the bowl containing the dry ingredients,  and using the paddle attachment, mix on medium for 4 minutes.
  4. Switch to the dough hook, and gradually add enough remaining 3 c. flour to knead  5 to 7 minutes until smooth and elastic.
  5. Turn dough out of bowl, clean the bowl, then lightly oil.
  6. Return dough to the bowl and turn it about to grease top.
  7. Cover and let rise in a warm place free from drafts until dough doubles in size.
  8. Turn dough onto lightly floured surface and  punch down.
  9. Divide dough into 2 equally sized pieces, then let rest about 10 minutes.
  10. While the dough is resting, mix the sugar and cinnamon.
  11. Lightly spray two large loaf pans with cooking spray and set aside.
  12. Roll or pat each piece of dough into an approximate 12 x 8- inch rectangle.
  13. Brush each with melted butter and distribute apples and pecans evenly over dough.
  14. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar mixture evenly over the apples and nuts.
  15. With a dough scraper or large knife, chop apples, pecans,  and cinnamon sugar lightly into the dough until apple slices are about 1/2 -inch and pressed into the dough.
  16. Carefully fold the dough over the mixture,  lift and place it into the prepared loaf pans.
  17. Tuck the dough ends under and press it a bit to fit pan if necessary.
  18. Cover with plastic wrap and a towel, and let rise until almost doubled in size.
  19. Bake in a preheated 350°F oven for 35-40 minutes, until golden brown. Brush with additional melted butter.
  20. Allow to cool in pans about 10-15 minutes before removing from pan and then finish on parchment or plastic covered wire rack.

Enjoy warm if you can, but no one would need to twist my arm.

Notes:

  • This recipe is an adaptation of one published by Red Star Yeast.
  • The original directions provide different methods for making this bread, so if you don’t have a standing mixer, please refer to the link above.
  • I didn’t have bread flour, so used all-purpose flour and an additional 4 T of Bob’s Red Mill Vital Wheat Gluten.
  • The original directions ask for the liquid to be heated to a temperature higher than what I’m used to when working with yeast, so I opted for the lower temperature stated above, then used the proofer in my oven which is a steady 85 degree environment.  It took the dough quite a long time to double in size — more than 90 minutes.  Hmmm…
  • On the chopping of the ingredients into the dough:  This was strange.  My dough was quite smooth and elastic, so chopping the ingredients into the dough also chopped the dough which made any type of neat rolling not quite so neat.  I experimented a bit with adding the sugar mixture first, then the apples and nuts on one piece of dough before chopping and decided it all worked better to add the sugar and cinnamon last.  Regardless, it’s not neat and tidy and doesn’t need to be.  Just get it into the pan, holes and all.  It adds to the charm of the finished loaves.
  • When I make this again (and I will) I’m going to coarsely chop the apples and nuts in a bowl, then press them into the dough after adding the sugar to see how that works in comparison.  Just curious.
  • The second rise also too more time than expected — about an hour or so.  In the large pans, the dough didn’t quite make it to the top of the pan.
  • I baked the loaves 40 minutes and got only the lightest shade of brown on the tops, buttered them, then put them back in for an additional 5 minutes to see if I could brown them more.
  • Be careful taking the bread from the pans.  The sugar mixture is quite hot and a bit sticky.  All the more reason to lick your fingers, but you’ll need to for more than the syrupy goodness if you’re not careful.
  • If you leave the loaves in the pan until they’re completely cool, you’ll have to use a knife around the edges to remove it, and depending on how much of the syrup is on the bottom of the pan, they may stick.
  • It slices so nicely, has a lovely texture, holds up in the toaster just fine, and is great for breakfast or a snack.
  • We enjoyed one loaf, then I sealed the second up in a zip lock and put it in the freezer so I can make French toast for Christmas breakfast.
  • Although this bread is nothing like Dudley’s yummy Julian Apple Nut bread, I was quite satisfied with the results.  Very, very tasty!
  • Now I need a trip to the mountains, just because.