Last year at this time I was nearing the tail end of a solo adventure. Just me and the Volvo, rolling from Los Angeles to Colorado. The intention of this trip was to reconnect, to immerse myself in nature, get still and “to find some fall”. It was a spectacular two weeks of hiking through fallen leaves, exploring hidden mountain towns, reading and relaxing in front of cozy fires all while surrounded by snow-capped Rockies. Little did I know that a year later I would be living in another such beautiful corner of the country that would gift me the same experience.
We landed in Seattle at the perfect time. The leaves have been changing for weeks the sharp chill in the air has inspired lots of playing with butternut squash, brussels sprouts and warm soups. One of my favorite fall activities is apple picking. I just can’t get enough of the ritual that surrounds it all. The cider, cider donuts, the hay rides. The macking on freshly snagged apples while tromping through acres of Gala and Granny Smith. It’s a tradition that I’ve missed since living in New England.
Apple picking in the Pacific Northwest is different but not different. Distinct in that here the apple farms are nestled at the base of the Cascade mountains making for a breathtaking backdrop. But just like apple picking in New England, when it comes time to pay for that empty bag I am convinced that I can easily make use of a full twenty pounds of apples. I mean, you give some to neighbors, you make a pie or two, juice a bit, maybe make a little cider…
…and you still have eighteen pounds of apples.
The first thing I did with our loot is whip up a couple pans of this apple cinnamon loaf. This was an exceptional call because after ten minutes in the oven the house smelled just like those cider donuts from the farm. The loaf itself is all apple, not to sweet and the crumble-ee goodness on top will have you blissing out, as crumbles do. A walk in the woods and a slice of this stuff is really all that this nostalgic fool needs to feel the season. In fact, I’m snacking on it’s remains as I type. Candles lit. Under a cozy blanket. So good.
I hope you’re enjoying October as much as I am. Let me know if you get a chance to give this a go. I’ll just be here watching Charlie Brown’s Great Pumpkin for the ba-gillionth time.
I adapted this recipe from The Cake Blog. A few adjustments – I was going for more loaf than cake so I chose to omit the glaze topping, altogether. I also subbed greek yogurt for sour cream. Perhaps most importantly, the original recipe called for way more crumble topping than I was after. I used less than half of it and still had a nice, heafty layer of sweet topping. That said, I’ve reduced the crumble measurements by half.
- CRUMBLE TOPPING
- ¾ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoons cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ⅓ cup cold butter, diced
- ⅓ cup apples, peeled and diced
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup butter, softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup greek yogurt
- 2 cups apples, peeled and diced
- TO MAKE THE CRUMBLE TOPPING - Combine all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl (flour, sugar, cinnamon and salt).
- Add the cold butter using a fork or pastry cutter. I often wind up using my hands toward the end to separate into pea-sized crumbs.
- Stir in apples.
- Refrigerate the crumb topping until ready to use.
- FOR THE LOAF - Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare two 9×5″ loaf pans with butter (and parchment paper if you have it). Set aside.
- In a large bowl whisk together dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter and sugar on medium-high using the paddle attachment. Cream until pale and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of bowl.
- Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
- Add vanilla and blend to combine.
- With the mixer on low, add one third of the dry ingredients. Then add in one half of the sour cream.
- Add another third of the dry ingredients.
- Add the remaining sour cream followed by the end of the dry ingredients.
- Mix until just combined.
- Fold in apple.
- Divide batter evenly between prepared pans and top the batter in each with the crumble mixture. You may feel like you don't have enough batter to fill two pans but know that the loaf will rise and at least double itself during baking
- Bake for around 50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Let cool for about 15 minutes and then remove cakes from pans. Place onto a rack to cool completely and enjoy.