After a great apple picking trip in Westchester, I was left with a ton of apples–a problem I’m always happy to have. I wanted to make something outside of the typical pie or crisp box with these apples, and I stumbled across this “Autumn Loaf” recipe. Although the apples aren’t necessarily the star, they are costars with some of my favorite fall flavors–pumpkin, walnuts, and dates. I know it’s an aggressive statement, but I think this is my favorite quick bread recipe I’ve ever made.
The only flaw in this recipe is that there were so many components and steps–soaking the dates, brown sugar and white sugar, whole wheat flour and all purpose, chopping nuts, peeling apples…you get the gist. But that being said, I think it was completely worth the effort. This is the perfect bread for a semi healthy breakfast/snack/or dessert. It’s also the kind of recipe you can make infinite twists on–say, pears instead of apple, pecans instead of walnuts, or dried cranberries instead of dates. I doubled the recipe and made 3 loaves, which were devouerd almost immediately by my coworkers, roommates and family.
Nutritional Highlights: This bread is a healthier version than most, as it doesn’t need much fat to stay super moist. The apples, apple sauce, pumpkin do that for you. It also uses mostly whole wheat flour, and not an excessive amount of added sugar (since you get so much sweetness from the other ingredients). Pumpkin, like many other winter squash, has lots of beta carotene, a form of vitamin A and is packed with antioxidants.
Harvest Loaf (with apples, walnuts, dates, and pumpkin)
adapted from Ellysaysopa.com
Makes 1 loaf (*note: i doubled the recipe and it made 3 smallish loaves)
1 cup dates, chopped
2/3 cup very hot or boiling water
1.25 cups whole wheat flour
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/4 cup canola oil
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup + 2 Tbsp. pumpkin puree
2 Tbsp. applesauce
1 medium apple, peeled, cored, and chopped
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
Preheat the oven to 350 and lightly grease a loaf pan.
Place chopped dates in a small bowl, and then cover with hot water. Allow to stand until the
water comes to room temperature.
Meanwhile, sift together the flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, cloves and
nutmeg in a large bowl.
In another bowl, or in the bowl of your stand mixer, beat the canola oil and sugars until well
blended. Beat in the egg and vanilla, just until incorporated; then add the pumpkin puree
Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and beat until just incorporated. Repeat
with another 1/3. Then, add the dates, with their water and beat for just a few seconds.
Finally, add the remaining flour and mix until blended (I like using a spatula towards the
ends to keep the batter light). Fold in the apples and walnuts. Pour the batter into the loaf
Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes
before placing on a rack to cool completely.