This easy-to-make apple bread recipe has spiced brown butter and walnuts in it with a cinnamon crumb topping that screams Autumn!
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“You should really show that to your readers…” said my friend Annelies while we were hanging out in the lobby of a hotel in Seattle. It was day two of a major food blogging conference and instead of going to a session, both of us opted to just hang out and chat. Annelies was referring to a photo I had taken of yellow legal pad where I keep my recipe developing notes. I had recipes listed for my caramel apple popcorn, my easy caramel apple, my red wine pear tart and my latest Apple Bread with Spiced Brown Butter and Walnuts.
I had quickly taken it with my iPhone because I wanted to write a blog post. I needed to transcribe the recipe to my computer but I didn’t have time before my flight and didn’t want to lug my legal pad with me. I questioned whether anyone would have interest in seeing it, but she assured me that they would. I filed that conversation in the back of my head and haven’t really revisited it until I started developing the apple cinnamon bread.
In truth, I’m always fascinated by “behind the scenes” exposés where people explain all the work that goes into the final product. I’m probably not alone in that so it doesn’t surprise me that Annelies would suggest I post about. But does anyone have any interest in learning about how I do things? I’m not sure, mostly because how I do things around here is pretty boring.
Behind the scenes of recipe developing
I start with an idea (Apple Bread!), write down the recipe, start baking, often times adapting or changing the recipe as I bake on the fly. The batter is looking too thin, so I add more flour, the batter is too thick, so I add more buttermilk. Maybe I should use more whole wheat instead of all-purpose. Looks like I don’t have any pecans in the cabinet but I do have the package of walnuts instead. Make notes, cross off things off, add things, adjust amounts. Bake. Taste. Repeat. When satisfied, photograph, photograph and photograph some more. Hmmm. Is that interesting? I don’t know. You tell me.
Extra produce means extra recipe developing!
I’m a pretty frugal baker and blogger by nature. It may not seem that way as I have WAY more ridiculous ingredients in my cabinets than the average bear. Whole grain flours, alternative sweeteners, oddball finishing salts and weird extracts, oils and vinegars. My cabinet would put Whole Foods to shame. But at the end of the day, the stuff that I make is usually a last ditch attempt at using up something in the fridge or the counter before it goes bad.
As a food photographer, I buy produce for a shoot as props, but I always have leftovers from the shoot. I need to use them up before they go bad. That’s what drives me to bake the things that I do more than anything else. People ask me where I get my inspiration, but the truth is, it’s usually desperation. I can’t throw away perfectly good food/ingredients. How can I make something out of it?
Today it was the abundance of apples I had as leftover from a photoshoot with a client. And the walnuts came in to play because the pecans I thought I had in the pantry amounted to a scant 1/3 cup but that container of walnuts sitting next to it was full. Besides I had that bottle of La Tourangelle Roasted Walnut Oil that they had given to me as a sample. I’ve been meaning to use it (see what I mean about ridiculous ingredients?). What better use of all those ingredients than to whip up a quick batter bread with fall spices that would make the apartment smell like October?
If San Francisco had deciduous trees, I’d be out there jumping in the leaves and taking photos of the changing colors of the trees. But since it doesn’t, I’ll content myself with another slice of this apple walnut bread. It’s the closest I’ll get.
How to make apple bread
Apple bread is an easy quick bread that requires you making an easy batter, folding in the chopped apples, then baking it.
My recipe has an extra step of first processing walnuts into a fine crumb, then toasting it to give them extra flavor. Butter is then cooked on the stove to give it an extra boost of flavor. Mix those into the batter and then bake with a crumb topping!
How long does apple bread last?
Store apple bread in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the refrigerator for 7 days.
Can you freeze apple bread?
Yes, you can also freeze homemade apple bread! Just let it cool to room temperature, then slice it. This will make it easier to serve. Wrap the apple bread tightly in plastic wrap and place in a resealable Ziploc freezer bag. The apple cinnamon bread should last last up to 3 months in the freezer. Just thaw at room temperature for an hour before serving..
If you like this homemade apple bread recipe, try these other quick bread recipes:
- Pumpkin Spice Latte Bread
- Kahlua Chocolate Banana Bread
- Marbled Pumpkin Chocolate Bread
- Lemon Rosemary Walnut Bread
Special thanks for La Tourangelle for giving me a sample of their Roasted Walnut Oil to try out. As always, even though they offered me the sample for free, I was not monetarily compensated for this post and all opinions above are my own.
Updated October 22, 2019: I have updated this recipe formatting and cleaned up a bit of this blog post, but the recipe is the same from the original October 7, 2013 publication.
APPLE BREAD WITH SPICED BROWN BUTTER AND WALNUTS
- 9 x 5 inch bread loaf pan
- parchment paper (optional)
- Food processor
- 3/4 cup walnuts 85 g
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter 1 stick or 115 g
- 2 tablespoons walnut oil or olive oil
- 1 cup packed dark brown sugar 220g
- 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon almond extract optional
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup whole wheat flour 150 g
- 1 cup all purpose flour 140 g
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 2 medium Granny Smith apples peeled, cored and chopped into 1/2-inch chunks (about 2 cups)
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts 55 g
- 1/4 cup dark brown sugar 55 g
- 1/4 cup all purpose flour 35 g
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoon melted unsalted butter
- Preheat the oven to 350˚Spray the bread loaf pan with cooking oil and then place a piece of parchment paper inside the pan and up the sides, overhanging the edges by an inch or two.
- Make the bread batter by placing the walnuts in a food processor and processing until you have a fine crumbs of walnuts (it’ll look like coarse sand). Pour the crumbs into a medium pan and toast the walnut crumbs over medium heat until they start to smell fragrant and darken a bit, about two to three minutes. Pour into a medium size bowl to cool down.
- Place the butter in the same pan you cooked the walnut crumbs and turn the heat back to medium. Cook the butter until it melt and the butter fat starts to brown. The butter might foam a bit, but once you notice brown specks at the bottom of the pan, turn the heat off, and let the residual heat from the pan continue to cook the butterfat until it has turned dark golden brown.
- Pour the brown butter into the mixing bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, being sure to scrap all the brown bits into the bowl as well. Turn the mixer on and beat for about 30 seconds to cool the butter down. Add the walnut oil (or olive oiand dark brown sugar. Beat for another 30 seconds to incorporate.
- Add the vanilla extract, almond extract (if using), baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices. Beat to incorporate and add the eggs, one at a time, beating between additions to incorporate. Add the toasted walnut crumbs to the batter and beat to incorporate.
- Add both flours to the batter and beat to incorporate. Add the buttermilk and beat to incorporate. Add the apple bits to the batter and fold them with a large spatula by hand. Scrape the batter into the prepared bread loaf pan.
- Make the streusel topping by placing the chopped walnuts, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and sea salt in the same bowl the toasted walnut crumbs used to be in. Drizzle the melted butter over the ingredients and toss together with a fork. The ingredients should clump together. Sprinkle over the bread batter evenly and bake in the oven for 55-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the bread comes out clean.
- Let the bread cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes before removing the bread out of the pan by grabbing the sides of the parchment paper that are hanging over the edges and lifting straight up. Move to a wire rack and let cool completely before slicing and serving.
This would still work if I were too lazy to grind the nuts and just threw them in? Or do you think I need to make the nut flour?
You know, I’m not sure! I think it would work fine, but I’m not 100% about that. If you try it, I’d chop the walnuts fairly fine and take a look at the batter. If it’s feeling a little thin maybe add a 1/4 cup or so of flour to help thicken it up. Let me know if you make it that way though and how it turns out!
The way I cook dinner is making random made up food out of whatever’s going bad too. I make a lot of pretty good tasting things that way & it’s made me a better cook! The 3 of us at the house were actually discussing/wondering yesterday how you come up with and create your recipes (& Cavin was saying he’s sad he still hasn’t been able to go to one of your dessert parties), so actually, this is very interesting. It’s kind of how I’d expected you’d do it, it’s just so smart and artistic the way your brain works to think to combine these things and that they come out tasting good!
I can (really) almost smell this in my morning-chilly house and would love nothing more than a slice of it to go with a cup of Italian roast! This is one of those classics, Irvin — thanks. And I love discovering the process each baker/cook goes through in each individual life.
Katie | Healthy Seasonal Recipes says
Irvin, I love your behind the scenes shots, and thank for sharing. It looks a lot like what I do. I like to type up a hypothesis draft of my recipe and print it out before I begin my first test. I find if I do that I tend to think it out more thoroughly and then end up getting closer on the first test. Even still, it gets pretty marked up. I know exactly what you mean about having left-over from shoots. In the case of apples and that oil, I’d say that’s a great score!
Arthur in the Garden! says
Shikha @ Shikha la mode says
I’m so glad that desperation is a technique for you because it’s the same for me as well! Living in SF gets pretty expensive, so I can’t often splurge on super-organic extra rare produce/chocolate/oils/etc all the time. But even then, I hope that it always works out!
Things come down to desperation. I hate throwing food away, so this is why I am a preserver and it sounds like you are too (of the baking variety). PS- I have roasted walnut oil and the idea of that in apple bread is ridiculously tantalizing. I like seeing your yellow notepad memorialized on the blog and the question of process is one I like to ask writers, artists in various forms. Art informs art, so maybe process informs process?
Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar says
There is so much good stuff in this bread!! Yum!
Ruthy @ Omeletta says
I LOVE “behind the scenes” from just about anything- movies, television, photo shoot,s and especially blogs. I always mean to include some of my own in blog posts, but I never remember until it’s way too late! Your method of writing recipes sounds pretty similar to mine.
Shelly (Cookies and Cups) says
Apple bread is definitely the greatest thing ever! Love it!
Irvin, perfect! I am looking to make an apple bread this week with oatmeal and maybe sweet potato, and this gives me a really good recipe to start playing with!
Also, for what it’s worth, as a fellow blogger, I always appreciate reading/seeing “the process” of recipe and post creation. It helps me think about how I’m working and not just whether I’m doing it “right,” but ideas for other ways I could approach recipe development and photography. So I’m all in, on that front.
Brilliant! You are such an inspiration! I riffed a pumpkin bread on this with the browned butter and then steeped chai spices in it. Brown butter shortbread anyone?
Wedding Cakes in Pune says
Gorgeous, yummy, delicious……….love it. I can’t wait a single minute to try this
Abby Bristol says
Mmm, looks amazing! I’m sure it tastes great too!