Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

Apple Harvest Loaf Cake

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Everyone has a story. Everything has a story. This Apple Harvest Loaf Cake has a story, but it’s not one that requires you to step away for a moment to grab a couple mugs of tea, and say, “Uh-uh” to assure me that you are listening, as you multitask in the kitchen. The story to this loaf cake isn’t exactly a story that requires you to sit up, slide to the edge of your seat, and pay close attention to each word I share with you, however, I do ask you to listen because I know somewhere in all of my rambling, there’ll be something that makes you say, “Makes sense!” Or “Phew! I’m glad I’m not the only one!” or even, “I needed this.”

The story behind this autumnal loaf is one that reminded me of something I’d forgotten. I’d forgotten about feeling. I was lost in “I think”s and “however”s, for months- since the beginning of the year. Everything since then has been about my thoughts; in the midst of constant thinking, I’d forgotten the most important part of life- feeling. I’d forgotten to ask myself how I felt about certain situations, and at times I’d break down, hold my head, and on some days, I’d want to stay in bed the entire day, sulking and trying to forget everything. On some days, I did just that- I sat in bed, waiting for something to happen, passing time reading novels and blasting Indie hits on my headset trying to forget about everything.

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I think it’s natural for us to have these moments of melancholy once in a blue moon; there are times for cheeriness and there are times that require laying in bed in your favorite sweater and doing nothing. At the end of your melancholic state, or at least, when you try to put an end to it, a good friend always comes in handy. Not a friend that is only great to hang-out with, but one who listens and does kick you in the butt to remind you to live life. I have a good friend (hi, Lauren!) like that, and recently, in the middle of chaos and worry, and wanting to sit in bed with the covers over my head, Lauren reminded me to “just do what feels right” and to let life turn the pages on its own.

So, I did, and I am. And I slid out of bed with my favorite sweater, and baked a loaf cake.


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It’s just after 10PM here in New Jersey, and I first anticipated to share this loaf cake with you a few weeks ago, but each time I sat down to write, the words just couldn’t find their way onto the page, and I remembered, “just do what feels right.” It’s simple, yet, so powerful. And because of this- and everything around me, I am inspired.

I’m inspired by the leaves pirouetting around the dark parking lot outside my bedroom windows. By the soft dying days and the maturing sun. By the wind that whispers in its sleep. By the russet red and copper-tinged leaves that hang from aging trees and cover the ground. By the branches of apple trees bent with the hectic red fruit.

6320221340 5288ddf020 b Apple Harvest Loaf Cake

Most of all, I am grateful. For friendship, and for living in a place where I can experience all four seasons. I do have my moments of displeasure with Winter’s frosty kisses and dark days, the (what seems like) never-ending rain that welcomes Spring, the dreadfully muggy days that come chained to Summer, and the flashes of hot and cold that we experience throughout Autumn’s visit.

Criticisms aside, during each season there is always something to look forward to. During the Winter time, there are the several mugs of orange-flavored hot chocolate. There’s also the beautiful citrusy cakes and lip puckering lemon tarts, buttermilk biscuits, and hand made breads, all cranked-out by an oven working over-time. Beautiful verde asparagus and scallions ring in Springtime, making for sensationally simple and quick meals. Summertime welcomes in azurro blue skies, punnets of beautiful berries, and peaches so fragrant-fleshed and juicy, that rolling up your sleeves and standing in front of the kitchen sink is obligatory. Autumn is the tender voice that welcomes in silvery and misty blue skies, earthy foods, burnish red & viridescent blotched apples, sweater wearing, and loaf cakes.

I look forward to Autumn each year for these very reasons, silvery skies and all. Throughout the year, farmers’ market bins are packed with apples, and rarely are they one of the highlights of the season. Come Autumn, they are at the center of attention, and rightfully so, if you ask me.

While the trees lilt to the wind’s cooling autumn song, while copper toned leaves continue to fall onto the drying earth, while pine cones blanket forest floors, and while days seem to end earlier and earlier, I think it would only be appropriate to share this autumnally aromatic apple harvest loaf cake with you. It is a perfect time for apple anything, after all!

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So, here’s the deal. This apple loaf is hearty, and because of this- it does require quite a few ingredients, but the method to prepare it is as simple as mixing everything together in a large bowl, but there is a small catch, but before I even get to that, I will encourage you to bake this cake once you come home after a long day (or a couple hours before heading off to bed). Take your shoes off, change into comfortable clothes, set iTunes to shuffle, and get to baking.

The loaf starts off with mixing the topping ingredients in a small bowl: oats, rich light muscovado sugar, earthy cinnamon, a pinch of nutmeg, and pinch of fine grain sea salt. That is set aside, and the dry ingredients for the batter are mixed together.

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The batter starts off with mixing together flour, natural cane sugar, toasted wheat germ, and almond meal in a large bowl. The almond meal is followed by an earthy snowfall of sifted light muscovado, added for richness, moisture, and sweetness. Baking powder and salt are mixed in. After that, the earthy spices are added- cinnamon, ground ginger, and nutmeg- along with a good handful of rolled oats (for texture and flavor). The bowl is set aside, and another bowl is pulled forward. In that bowl, yogurt, milk, melted butter, and an egg are briefly whisked together.

Once the vanilla colored liquid is whisked, it’s then poured onto the dry ingredients, and everything is mixed with a wooden spoon until the flour is no longer visible, and the smell of spices dances to your nose- it happens instantly. Then, chopped apples, toasted walnuts, ruby red cranberries, and raisins as golden as a copper sunrise, are tossed into the batter, and mixed-through just until they’re evenly distributed throughout.

The batter is then encouraged into the waiting loaf tin, the magical topping is sprinkled from a height, and the loaf makes its way into the oven for a little less than an hour, until a cold home is warmed by the sweet smells of autumn.

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Once out of the oven-here’s the catch I was talking about earlier- the loaf pan is immediately covered with aluminum foil, and set to cool overnight (about 8-12 hours give or take). This will not only make the cake exceptionally moist, but it will allow the flavors in the loaf to mingle together into something absolutely heavenly. This is why I encourage you to bake this after work, or a couple hours before heading off to bed because you’ll be able to enjoy the loaf with a cup of coffee, tea, warm cider- whatever, in the morning. And boy, having this for breakfast is a good start to any hectic day. Now, I know that not all of us have the patience for this, and trust me, while I even tried to follow my own directions, sometimes my patience got the best of me, and I had to slice right in… So, if you’re short on time or just lack the patience to wait (I know I’ve had many of these moments), let the cake cool in the pan for about 20 minutes or thereabouts, and then slice right in. I like slicing the cake right in the pan, then carefully pulling the entire loaf out using the parchment, for ease and less mess, but feel free to do whatever floats your boat.

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For serving, I schmear the cake with a bit of salted butter, bedeck it with a few thin slices of apple and serve it with a good cuppa tea. I do suspect, however, honeyed almond butter and apple slices, or just butter alone, would be simply irresistible.

So, enough of my yapping, you’ve got an apple loaf to bake! :)

Apple Harvest Loaf Cake

Makes One 9×5-inch loaf

This apple loaf cake is hearty, and quite versatile. It does require quite a few ingredients, but the method for preparing the cake batter is very simple. Everything just needs to be mixed properly into a larger bowl, and poured into a parchment-lined loaf tin, and baked just until you can see the edges pulling away from the sides, and a cake tester inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean, but not completely (you want a few crumbs to stick to the cake tester; it’s a sign that your cake is baked, but still nice and moist).

I’ve tested the recipe many times, and each with slight variations: soft dark brown sugar instead of light muscovado sugar, almond meal in place of the wheat germ, buttermilk in place of the milk and yogurt, all cranberries and no raisins, all raisins and no cranberries, half all-purpose flour and half whole wheat pastry flour–and each variation works well. So, if you haven’t any light muscovado sugar, or just can’t find any, don’t fret- use soft dark brown sugar instead. Don’t like raisins? Use cranberries. Don’t have yogurt? Use buttermilk.

This loaf cake is not your usual kind, it’s easy, but it does require some time- in the form of waiting. There’s a bit of resting involved, about 8-12 hours worth, which only betters the flavors of the cake. But even I don’t follow my own directions sometimes, so if you lack the patience to let the cake rest (covered) overnight, or if you’re short on time, let the cake cool in the pan for about 20 minutes or thereabouts, and then slice right in.

Ingredients:

For the topping:

2 tablespoon / 14g Rolled Oats
1 tablespoon / 14g Packed Light Muscovado Sugar, (can use soft dark brown sugar)
Heaping ¼ teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
Pinch of Nutmeg
Pinch of Fine Grain Sea Salt

For the Cake:

1 Cup / 128g Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
½ cup (100g) Natural Cane Sugar / Granulated Sugar
½ cup / 50g Toasted Wheat Germ
½ cup / 40g Almond Meal
⅓ cup / 60g Packed Light Muscovado Sugar, Sifted (can use soft dark brown sugar)
1 tablespoon / 7g Ground Cinnamon
2 ½ teaspoons / 12g Baking Powder
1 ¼ teaspoons / 7g Fine Grain Sea Salt
¾ teaspoon Ground Ginger
½ teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
⅓ cup / 30g Rolled Oats

⅓ cup / 75g Greek Yogurt (no-fat is okay), at room temperature
⅓ cup / 75g Whole Milk, at room temperature
5 tablespoons / 70g Unsalted Butter, Melted
1 Large Egg, at room temperature

2 cups / 200g McIntosh Apples (about 2), cored & chopped into roughly 1cm pieces
½ cup / 35g Walnut Pieces, toasted and roughly chopped
¼ cup / 30g Dried Cranberries
¼ cup / 30g Golden Raisins (Sultanas)

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350F / 180C / Gas Mark 4, and line the bottom of a 9×5-inch (23cm) loaf pan with parchment paper.

Mix together the topping ingredients in a small bowl, and set aside.

For the cake, mix together the first 11 [dry] ingredients (from the flour to the oats) together in a large mixing bowl, and set aside.

In a separate bowl, briefly whisk together the greek yogurt, milk, melted butter, and the large egg.

Mix the yogurt mixture into the flour mixture until just combined.

Briefly stir in the apples, walnuts, cranberries, and golden raisins into the batter, just so that each of the ingredients are evenly distributed throughout the batter.

Pour the batter into the waiting parchment-lined loaf tin, and evenly sprinkle (from a height) the topping mixture over the top of the loaf. Bake in preheated oven for 50-55 minutes or until the cake is set on top and begins to pull away from the sides, and a cake tester inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Once baked, cover the loaf tin with aluminum foil, and let the cake rest covered for about 8-12 hours (refer to headnotes). Serve with salted butter or honeyed almond butter, a few thin apple slices, and a cup of warm cider, tea, or coffee.

Enjoy!

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49 COMMENTS

  • Jen @ Savory Simple
    November 16th, 2011
    1

    Your writing is beautiful. This looks lovely.

  • Aaisha @BakingPartTime
    November 16th, 2011
    2

    Love the earthy tone of the photos and the truth in your writing. Winter is such a hard season. When sunshine is such a precious commodity. There are definitely times I’ve spent the whole weekend in bed just watching a series on my laptop when I know I should get up and go outside or bake… knowing if I do I’d feel my spirits rise.. but I just can’t make myself do it. There’s a comfort in knowing I’m not the only one who likes to hide out. Thanks for sharing.

  • Kulsum at JourneyKitchen
    November 16th, 2011
    3

    Kamran!! You are officially my favorite blog writer! I tell you, with all those beautiful words with so much depth, I find it difficult to imagine you so young (And talented). I can’t tell you how much I relate to it. And how much I’m inspired. You my friend are brilliant. Truly!

    kamran replied:

    Kulsum- you are the sweetest! Thank you! :)

  • Nash at Plateful
    November 16th, 2011
    4

    Oh Kamran, your words resonate with me strongly. In fact, I’ve just published a post on the value of true friendship–how good friends keep you moving when the going gets rough. I’m not exaggerating in saying that you have a lot of potential & your writing is very touching. You’ve captured the feeling that I’ve been through lately so well, ah. As for your blog and recipes–it’s truly superb! Glad I found this New Yorker who schools in NJ :) Like Kulsum said, you are a true source of inspiration! Cheers!

  • Emma @ Poires au Chocolat
    November 16th, 2011
    5

    ‘Just do what feels right’ is a wonderful phrase, I’ll have to remember that. Gorgeous post, especially the words.

    I’ve never baked with wheat germ. Can you taste it?

    kamran replied:

    Hi Emma- it adds a nutty flavor to the entire loaf, but you don’t really taste it in the finished product- I like it for it’s health benefits (filled with nutrients) as well as the flavor. As mentioned in the headnotes of the recipe, you can replace that amount with almond meal, if you’d like. :)

  • Clarisse@TheTummyTrain
    November 16th, 2011
    6

    I believe this is my favourite post from you yet. The writing is absolutely perfect. You captured that feeling of limbo perfectly. :)

    kamran replied:

    Clarisse- thanks so much!

  • David
    November 16th, 2011
    7

    Kamran, I think the story of the apple loaf is an important one, and thanks for sharing it. Although it pains me to read that someone as young and creative as yourself should ever know such melancholy, it does not surprise me. Often our creative souls often exact a high price in this manner. The good news is that you found your way through by turning to your passions of reading, music, cooking, photography and writing, and we are all enriched by it. Kudos to Lauren, as well, for being such a good friend!!

    One never knows when these blue moments will settle on us, but you should always keep one thing in mind: Amongst the millions of people blogging about food out there, you are one of the bright spots. Now…there are some apples in my kitchen just waiting to be transformed into this amazing apple harvest loaf!

    kamran replied:

    David- your kind comment made me smile. Truly kind of you to say! :)

  • Deeana
    November 16th, 2011
    8

    Kam, you left me hanging onto each and every word! poetic and beautiful!

    I agree with you. It is normal to hide with the comforter over our head, but then we have to find the energy to tell ourselves, “OKay it’s time to get up! Go take a shower and then eat something because you have to go live life!” Life has it’s bumps, and as David mentioned, we never know when those moments will settle into our lives, but having a friend like Lauren makes it so much easier.

    Now the cake! That my young writer friend is what we call a loaf. I love that you instruct us to cover it and let it rest over night. It makes me feel better knowing that 8 to 12 magical hours later, the cake will taste… Magical! Good one.

  • Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction
    November 16th, 2011
    9

    I’ve had a few of those days where I’ve just wanted to go back to bed and hide there for a while… Sometimes you just need to. And, then it’s best to get back in the swing of things. This cake looks like the perfect comfort food. I’ve been looking for a good apple cake recipe. Can’t wait to give it a try.

  • angela@spinachtiger
    November 16th, 2011
    10

    The dark photos match the “mood” of your post and have their own beauty. At first, I thought why you are so young, what can the “painful thinking” be about. But, then I remember that I was so much the same. Creative people feel more and when they turn that “feeler” off, it hurts. Glad to see you return.

    kamran replied:

    Thank you, Angela! :)

  • Helene
    November 16th, 2011
    11

    Kamran, beautiful post. I can relate to not finding the words to write. Some days inspiration does not come. It’s better to wait and to write when you feel it. Thanks for sharing your feelings with us. That feels good.

  • Julie @ Willow Bird Baking
    November 16th, 2011
    12

    What a lovely voice. Thanks for sharing this gorgeous cake and your thoughts (and feelings!) with us.

  • Cookin' Canuck
    November 16th, 2011
    13

    Lauren is wise well beyond her years and is definitely a friend to keep close for a long time to come. I’m glad you did what felt right, both for your heart and mind and (more selfishly) for my tummy. This harvest loaf looks like just the reason to crawl out of bed!

  • Brian @ A Thought For Food
    November 16th, 2011
    14

    Your writing is an inspiration. Beautifully articulated.

  • Living The Sweet Life
    November 16th, 2011
    15

    Beautiful post – - such a simple reminder, yet such an important aspect of life. You’re lucky to have such an amazing friend :)

    Gorgeous post & such a beautiful, rich cake.

  • Sarah
    November 16th, 2011
    16

    Thoughtful post, happy autumn to you!

  • David @ Frenchie and the Yankee
    November 16th, 2011
    17

    Outstanding. The pictures, the writing, the recipe, the mood and the colors – beautiful.

  • Vanessa
    November 16th, 2011
    18

    Lovely! Insanely jealous of that table you have.

    kamran replied:

    Vanessa, you are very kind, but I wish it was a table! It’s actually an antique bread board that I found this summer.

  • amelia from z tasty life
    November 16th, 2011
    19

    this is about giving thanks… perfect mood for the season. what a warm and cozy package. i have enjoyed baking with apples too, and slowing down to enjoy the leaves twirling and the sky changing and the smell of rain on the bark.

  • Lauren
    November 16th, 2011
    20

    Kam, I’m so glad I could be that friend for you. I’m also glad that you wrote this-the first half made me teary, and the rest left me inspired (and wishing you didn’t live so darn far away so I could give you a real-life hug, friend!). Oh, and this cake! I need it in my life.

    kamran replied:

    Lauren- you are the best! :)

  • Mar
    November 16th, 2011
    21

    Thank you for this!
    The first time I stumbled on your blog I could see I had found something good, but now I think it’s gold.
    The loaf looks fantastic and I can’t wait to make it, I can smell it already and my mouth waters at the idea.
    Now your writing is something else, and I need to thank you for this. You words hit home and I could feel how little by little my writer’s block melted away. I could identify quite well with the situation you speak of and my heart immediately found his voice.
    Thank you for the inspiration, and for the recipe.

    kamran replied:

    Mar- thanks so much for your kind words! Really means a lot!

  • Megan Gordon
    November 16th, 2011
    22

    Hooray for having a Lauren in your life! You’re so smart to recognize that we do need these periods of melancholy. I tend to feel that way for a day or two and become alarmed that maybe I’m becoming clinically depressed. Which, obviously, isn’t the case.

    But I’ve had a funky week myself. I blame it on the time change which, of course, makes no sense. I’m so glad you gave yourself the space you need instead of just plopping up any old post. This is really beautifully written, Kam. Your words about the seasons stopped me in my tracks. Happy Wednesday, my friend. All the way from teeny-bit-warmer California.

  • Kiran @ KiranTarun.com
    November 17th, 2011
    23

    Wonderful post, Kamran. I am sure many can relate to those feelings. I’ve had my share of writers block, and its totally OK. Sometimes, a nice break does wonders. Like the delicious loaf cake. I want it. Like, NOW :D

  • wasabi prime
    November 17th, 2011
    24

    I think we sprinkle as much of our own heart and soul into our food, and sometimes the goal of writing is to just get that energy out. And I think it’s an especially wonderful thing when a beautiful cake comes out of the process!

  • Monisia
    November 17th, 2011
    25

    Love it! amazing pictures!;)

  • Eliana
    November 17th, 2011
    26

    Looks heavenly Kamran.

  • Kristin
    November 17th, 2011
    27

    Looks lovely, I have one in the oven right now. I actually put the batter in two pans as it was too much for my loaf pan. I’ll check them a little sooner to see if they bake more quickly.
    House smells good!!

    kamran replied:

    Kristin- Please do report back and tell us how they tasted- I’d love to hear your feedback! :)

  • Monique
    November 18th, 2011
    28

    Oh Kamran, It is every bit as beautiful as it sounds.
    I embrace all of our seasons but cant help thriving in the Spring and Fall. Those are my most favorite seasons. When winter comes, the night comes sooner and my mood, like the night sky gets darker. And you would think, that with it being the season of my birth, I would be a bit more cheerful about it. LOL. As I got older, I found winter to put me in those meloncholy moods. And kudos to you for getting in the kitchen and doing what you love.. my poor kitchen aid thinks I am having an affair with my space heater. (partially true)

    kamran replied:

    Monique- you crack me up!

  • Winnie
    November 18th, 2011
    29

    You really have a way with words, my friend. And your photos…perfection! Wish I could have a slice of this hearty apple loaf right now ;)

  • Millie
    November 19th, 2011
    30

    Such a beautifully evokative piece of writing Kamran & good to see you firing on all cylinders again in the kitchen! Down Under we are slowly emerging from the depths of a cold, miserable Winter. All I want are the searing hot days of an Aussie Summer. Days so hot that just breathing sucks the air from your lungs in unforgiving gasps. Sorry my friend, we are different in our love of the the Seasons, but united in our love of good food.
    Millie x

  • DeskSnacker.com
    November 19th, 2011
    31

    Ohhh, I’m thoroughly enjoyed fresh apples right now. The thought of them in this “cake” bread is getting me inspired to enter the kitchen. Thanks! P.S. I love the warm tones of your photos.

  • April
    November 21st, 2011
    32

    Kam: beautiful post. I can’t get over how talented you are and how you’re in the process of getting a book deal. congratulations to you! Youre def. a rising star in this community and I have to say that you’re a force to be reckoned with!

    I have a question. It’s a silly one, but I just took my loaf out of the oven, and I don’t have aluminium. Will cling film be okay to use? I just need something to keep the moisture in?

    kamran replied:

    April- thanks so much for your kind words! As for your question- it’s not silly at all! Cling film (plastic wrap) would work perfectly. It might not hold well to the sides of the loaf tin (in my experience it never does), but that’s nothing a rubber band or some kitchen twine can’t fix! Be sure to cover the loaf with the excess parchment paper, to help seal in the moisture, and to allow for easy covering. If you have a loaf tin with a cover, slide that on, or if you have a clean non terry towel, just cover the loaf with that. I hope that helps!

  • --kyleen--
    November 21st, 2011
    33

    I loved this post. It was really quite inspiring. You’re one of the bloggers that I really look up to. I’m in high school right now and the fact that you started your blog when you were in high school and then went off to university and got a book deal sounds kind of like my version of the dream.

  • mongraindesucre
    December 20th, 2011
    34

    Oh, your pictures look amazing and so stylish !! And this loaf, I can’t wait to try it, seems so delicious…

  • Laurie @ limonata
    March 30th, 2012
    35

    Hi Karman…I’m a bit late to the conversation, better late than never! I wanted to say that your writing is genuine, heartfelt, and really lovely. What courage you have to share your feelings. I definitely have had my share of melancholy days and have found the only way out is to feel. We busy ourselves or curl up in bed to hibernate to escape our feelings. I know all too well! I learned this the hard way and then over time I became comfortable “being” in my feelings…just sitting doing nothing but feeling. And in feeling, our minds renew and there is something wonderful to simply accept the whole lot. Ahhh! And, I love the saying that “There is no normal in this world. It doesn’t exist. It is an average of society!” Phew! Let’s bake some cake!

  • Jackie
    August 2nd, 2012
    36

    Hi Kam, your writing is amazing, love it, love it. I found your blog two days ago and didn’t stop reading!
    I have a question about the apples. Can I use different apples, perhaps gala?

    Kamran replied:

    Hi Jackie– I’m not sure a gala would work very well for this recipe; perhaps try granny smith apples instead?

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