Salted Caramel Apple Bread & Apple Hill, CA

9 Oct

Man oh man, I’ve been busy lately!  Not only am I slowly working through molecular formulas and hours worth of organic chemistry labs, I’ve also got my share of to-the-grind work hours and a new internship that I’m super in love with taking lots of my time and energy!  A lot has changed for me in the past several weeks, and while I won’t delve into it that much, I can definitively say it’s really not much of a “loss” to “lose” someone who is unappreciative of who you are and not supportive of life ambitions and endeavors.  It’s so tough to be your true self with someone like that, and life is too short not to be your own, genuine, self with someone who really deserves it.  I believe that you can’t lose the ones who are worth the fight, because they’re the ones who never want to be lost.  Surround yourself with GOOD people, and the others will just sort of filter themselves right on out.  Done and done! 🙂

Now on to what’s REALLY important!  It’s THAT time!…it’s THAT season!…APPLE SEASON!!  I wait patiently for this all year long.  Be still my heart, apple season *flutter, flutter* <3

I know you can pretty much get an apple any time of year these days, but you have to admit, you can’t really GET an apple.  Maybe a mealy, lac-luster, whatever kind of apple, but not a good one.  Good apples can only be found this time of year, kissed gently by just enough cool air as it graces leaf-dusted hillsides.  Lucky for me, I happen to live just a hop, skip, and a jump away from just such a hillside-studded place – a veritable apple mecca…a town actually named after the delicious, crisp, refreshing apple; a charmingly sweet town that’s ready and willing to let everyone know just what time of year it is by offering up warm apple cider, hand-crafted pies, and of course, fresh apples.  It’s unmistakable.  Unapologetic.  Amazing.

Apple Hill is this wondrous, wondrous, magical place (especially if you’re into popcorn or kettle corn, but don’t even get me started on that!) in Northern California where fall has officially taken root.  It’s the town you read about in books because places like it are all but extinct.  If any place in the world could actually give you a hug and grab you by your sensibilities at the same time, it’d be Apple Hill!  Boxes, and crates, and bins of apples, as far as the eye can see, every size, every color, about a million different varieties and names I’d never even heard of!  An apple for every personality, every mood, every thought…every baking endeavor, and then some.

Naturally my curiosity got the best of me and I ended up with a bag of stand-by, classic varieties (Granny Smith + Fuji), and a mystery grab-bag of four or five other new-to-me types that caught my attention – Stayman Weinsap, Mutsu (what, an apple with a first AND last name… and huh??), Rome, Empire, etc.   Mystery is fun, right?  The only real problem is that if I fall in love with a new apple flavor I may never actually figure out which of the aforementioned varieties it is, and run the risk of never tasting it again!  That particular type of potential issue never actually occurred to me in the moment, but then again, they never do!  Send help, please, or just more brown sugar & cinnamon! 🙂

Enough blabbing about my fall, apple, apple-fall combo love affair and obsession with a certain teeny tiny town packed full of both (for now)…I’ve got a recipe for you, inspired by a favorite childhood treat – the caramel apple!

Apple Bread Recipe

(Brimming with sweet, juicy, melt-in-your-mouth apple chunks, cinnamon brown-sugary sweetness, a hint of caramel-y chew, and just a touch of almond crunch.  This quick bread is moist, flavorful, and perfect with a latte in the morning (hello, pumpkin spice latte, anyone?! ;), or a tall glass of milk (I’d go with almond!) as an after dinner treat.  You can use most any apple variety you’d like, though I recommend something crisp, with just a bite of tartness like a Granny Smith or the ridiculous Stayman Weinsap, and pecans or walnuts would sub in well for the almonds if you prefer!)

Ingredients:

* 2 cups all purpose flour

* 1 tsp baking soda

* 1 tsp ground cinnamon

* 1/2 tsp salt

*  1/2 cup (1 stick) of butter

* 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed

* 1/2 cup granulated sugar

* 2 eggs

* 1 large, or 2 small-medium apples (I used 1 large Weinsap)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350*F.  Grease or line a single loaf pan.

Cream together the butter, brown sugar, and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer until light and fluffy.  Add in the eggs one at a time, mixing between additions.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.  Chop your apple(s) into small cubes.

Slowly incorporate the dry mixture into the wet, mixing until combined, but don’t over-mix!  Stir in the apple chunks with a large spoon.

Scoop batter into prepared loaf pan, sprinkle with crumb topping (recipe below) and bake for 50-60 min, depending on your oven.  Bread is done when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Crumb Topping

Ingredients:

* 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

* 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed

* 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter

* 1/4 cup roughly chopped almonds

Directions:

Crush together the flour, brown sugar and butter with a fork or pastry cutter in a bowl.  Once it resembles course meal, toss in the almond chunks.  Sprinkle on top of bread batter before baking.

Salted Caramel Drizzle

Ingredients:

* 1 cup granulated sugar

* 1/4 cup water

* 1 Tbsp corn syrup (or agave nectar)

* 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

* 2 Tbsp butter

* 1 1/2 tsp crushed sea salt (optional)

Directions.

Heat the water, sugar, and corn syrup on high in a sauce pan on the stove.  Bring to a boil without stirring (swirl occasionally if necessary) until the mixture turns amber in color.  Remove from heat, and slowly, carefully add in the butter and cream, stirring to combine.  Sprinkle in salt if desired.  Allow to cool completely before drizzling on top of cooled bread.

If you get the chance to head up to Apple Hill this fall, I suggest you not pass it up!  My family drives up every winter to hunt down our Christmas tree…can’t beat the years when it’s gorgeous, snowy, and the paradigm wintery dream!  Ya, it’s exactly like the “picture print by Currier and Ives” reference! 🙂  I’m getting excited about it already!

If you need me, I’ll be sorting through all my apples like a sugar-crazed kid with a pillowcase full of Halloween candy 😉

 

 

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4 Responses to “Salted Caramel Apple Bread & Apple Hill, CA”

  1. Jessica Grijalva October 9, 2012 at 9:49 pm #

    That looks amazing!! I love this season too, one of my favorites because of the trips up to apple hill to eat tons of pies and pastries and to load up on all the fresh produce.

    • Stacy October 9, 2012 at 10:23 pm #

      I agree! Life is awesome this time of year in Northern California! We’re so spoiled, Jess 🙂

  2. Tiffany @ She Loves Yoga October 12, 2012 at 4:50 pm #

    Stacy, those photos are absolutely gorgeous! I’ve never been to an apple orchard (farm?) before, and have only heard stories from my friends who grew up with cider mills, and fresh apple donuts. The cake looks divine, too. But I think I left my heart with the salted caramel glaze 😉

    • Stacy October 12, 2012 at 11:41 pm #

      Tiffany! I so hope you get to try all those yummy apple goodies this fall – if you can find an apple farm, it’s worth the trip! In the mean time, totally make caramel glaze and put it on everything 🙂 Thanks so much for your sweet comment, I love it!

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