A long and productive gardening season is winding down. After the first frost, the last peppers and tomatoes are ripening on trays indoors, the freezer is packed to the top, the basement shelves are filled with all kinds of canned goods, and the water-bath canner and all the other canning equipment has been put in storage. And I finally have time to get on my bike again.
Well not so fast…. From one of my bike rides I brought back a whole basket of windfall apples. Those are usually the most flavorful of all apples, because they are coming from the crown of the tree where they get the most sun but they are also the ones that are knocked down the easiest by the wind.
I used my booty for a new spiced apple bread that is so good that before I knew it, the water-bath canner was back in the kitchen for one last round of canning.
Looking for an apple cake that is made with lots of apples, not too rich, not too sweet, and keeps well, I remembered a German holiday bread from the Allgäu in southern Germany. Unlike other German holiday breads like Christmas Stollen or Bremer Klaben (find the recipe on my German food blog, Spoonfuls of Germany), Allgäuer Apfelbrot (Allgäu Apple Bread) is not loaded with butter, in fact, it contains neither eggs or dairy, it is only moderately sweet, and it is loaded with apples.
I swapped the usual spices – German gingerbread spice or a mix of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves etc. – for Masala Sugar, a recipe by Austrian blogger and cookbook author Ziii kocht. I had bookmarked the recipe in the spring before gardening absorbed my every free minute. The Masala Sugar is fantastic because, unlike standard spice mixes, the spices for Masala are dry-roasted before grinding, which gives it exceptional depth.
The Apple Bread with Masala Sugar was so good that I knew instantly I would want to make that often. But now is the time when our wonderful local apples are abundant. That’s why the canner came out of its storage one last time to preserve a few batches of chunky applesauce. I mixed it with the Masala Sugar so it is ready to be dumped into the dough.
Depending on the jars you are using, you might not be able to fit exactly the same amount of apples into the jars as is used in the recipe but it’s fine as long as you come close. This is a very forgiving recipe.
Apple Bread with Masala Sugar
Masala Sugar recipe from Ziii kocht
You can also make apple bars from this recipe. Or, bake half of the dough in a loaf pan and half in a jelly roll pan as a sheet cake so you have one of each.
1 tablespoon (about 24) green cardamom pods
4 whole cloves
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1 small cinnamon stick
½ teaspoon dried ginger chips
5 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 heaping teaspoons natural (unprocessed) baking cocoa
About 3 pounds (1.3 kg) tart baking apples, to make 2.2 pounds (1 kg) apple chunks
6 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup (200 g) light brown sugar or raw sugar
1 cup + 3 tablespoons (200 g) raisins
4 tablespoons golden rum
7 ounces (200 g) mixed nuts (walnuts and hazelnuts) and unpeeled raw almonds
3½ cups (17.5 ounces/500 g) whole-grain spelt flour
A pinch of salt
2 tablespoons Masala Sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1. For the Masala Sugar, crush the cardamom pods and remove the seeds. In a small, ungreased pan roast all the spices and the ginger chips over low to medium heat until fragrant, shaking the pan often so the spices won’t burn.
2. Finely grind the spices in a spice grinder while still warm. Let cool, then mix with the sugar and the cocoa. Store in a jar with a tight-fitting lid in a cool, dark place.
3. For the Apple Bread, peel, quarter and core the apples. Cut them into 1/2-inch (1 cm) chunks. Place them in a large bowl with the lemon juice and brown sugar and stir gently to combine. Cover and let stand for about 1 hour so the apples release some juice.
4. Place the raisins in a heatproof bowl and cover with boiling water. Drain well, then return them to the bowl and mix with the rum. Set aside. Coarsely chop the nuts.
5. In a large bowl mix the flour with the salt, Masala Sugar and baking powder. Stir in the mixed nuts.
6. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Adjust the oven rack to the second position from the bottom. Grease two loaf pans, or a loaf pan and a small non-stick jellyroll pan, or one large non-stick jellyroll pan, or line the jellyrolls with parchment paper.
7. Add the apples with all the liquids and the raisins with the rum to the bowl with the flour. Mix well until all the ingredients are thoroughly combined and no traces of flour remain. This is best done with your hands.
8. Divide the dough among the prepared pans. If using loaf pans, press the dough down with wet hands to compact it. If using a jellyroll pan, spread the dough evenly with a wet rubber spatula.
9. Place the pans in the preheated oven. Bake the loaves for 70 minutes, covering them with aluminum foil after 50 minutes. If using jellyroll pans, bake for 45 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes then unmold onto a cake rack and let cool completely. Cut the sheet cake into bars or squares.
10. Wrap in aluminum foil or store in an airtight container in the fridge.
Makes 2 loaves or 1 to 2 sheet cakes
Masala Apple Sauce
If using this apple sauce instead of fresh apples for the apple bread, only use ½ cup sugar for 2 loaves, and omit the lemon juice. You need about 2½ cups (600 g) canned Masala Apple Sauce for 2 loaves.
About 5.5 pounds (2.5 kg) tart baking apples, to make 4.25 pounds (2 kg) apple chunks
4 tablespoons Masala sugar
4 tablespoons lemon juice
½ cup (100 g) light brown sugar or raw sugar
1. Mix all the ingredients in a large non-reactive heavy pot. Cover and let stand for at a couple of hours, until the apples release some juice.
2. Slowly bring it to a boil and cook, stirring often, until the apples soften but do not fall apart.
3. Ladle the piping hot apple sauce into sterilized jars. Wipe the rims with a damp piece of paper towel to remove any drips. Place the lids and bands or glass lids and rubber gaskets on the jars and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
4. Remove from the water bath and let cool and set for 24 hours without disturbing the jars.
Makes about 6 (1-pint) jars or 4 to 5 (500 ml) jars
Photos by Ted Rosen