The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Apple harvest -- a meal

JMonkey's picture

Apple harvest -- a meal

I love apples, and, at the Corvallis farmer's market, apples have been abundant lately. Everything from relatively new varieties like Liberty, to old varieties like Spitzenburg, to unusual European apples that are rarely seen in the U.S. like Calville Blanc, a very old French apple best suited for pies.

I decided that the height of the apple season deserved an apple-themed meal, whose centerpiece, of course, would be Normandy Apple Bread, a recipe from Jeffrey Hammelman's Bread that I've been eyeing for quite some time. The recipe is fairly simple. It's mostly white flour, with a bit of whole wheat, uses sourdough, substitutes half the water with apple cider and adds a healthy amount of dried apples. It also includes yeast, but I decided to omit it and let the starter work all alone.

I can heartily recommend it, based on my results:

And here's a picture of the crumb:.

The baked bread tasted almost like an apple pie, with the sourdough tartness substituting for the lemon juice I often add to a pie.

The rest of the meal included butternut squash stuffed with chicken sausage and apples, spinach salad with pecans and apples, apple cider and, of course ...

APPLE PIE. This is the "Best Apple Pie" recipe from The King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion, but, instead of a traditional top crust, I decided to do a simple crumb topping. My daughter, Iris, is in the background, finishing off a slice of apple bread. She's had some fun with face paints earlier in the day, as you can see.


sphealey's picture

Well, not really - I just envy you ;-) Here in the central Midwest between the late spring freeze and the summer/fall drought essentially the entire apple crop was lost. By driving almost 200 miles to one of our former orchard hangouts we did manage to get 4 bags of good orchard apples (too bad about that child we had to leave in payment) but not enough to bake with.

So there are lots of good apples in the Northwest eh?


JMonkey's picture

There were last Saturday, anyway. Lots and lots. The most interesting to me were the French apples. This old-timer was selling apples by the bag,a and had these big wicker baskets (he'd made them himself, he said) full of unusual apples, some of which I'd never heard of and others that I've not seen since my grandfather died and took his orchard with him -- apples like Rome Beauties, Winesaps and Stamens.

Sorry to hear about your predicament. Fall without apples just isn't fall, in my book anyway ....

Floydm's picture

Looks lovely.

dstroy's picture

oh my gosh - Floyd please please make this for us!!

caryn's picture

I think you answered my quandary about what bread to make for Thanksgiving.  I will plan to make that fantastic apple bread- I, too, have eyed that recipe, but have not tried it.  I could almost taste it through your pictures!!  Thank you!!

browndog's picture

Beautiful, JMonkey--I like the elfette sampling your wares, too.

Apple season here is winding down, most of the orchards are done picking, though there are still plenty of good apples to be had. I didn't know Oregon was an apple-growing region, but then Social Studies was lost on me. (Door County in Wisconsin was pretty proud of its apples, too, once upon a time.)

Heirloom apples are in a bit of a boom with the orchards in our area, as is IPM or integrated pest management, a sort of compromise approach between conventional and organic. 


JMonkey's picture

I think Washington is the big apple growing region in the NW, but there are a number of orchards right around Corvallis in the valley. At least three sell their wares at the farmer's market -- and given the variety, three is plenty!

caryn's picture

Now that I have come home to look at Hamelman's recipe, I have a couple of questions for you, JMonkey- Did you use fresh apples and then dry them in the oven?  And if so, how long did you bake them for?  Also how much starter did you use to compensate for omitting the dry yeast?  Thank you.  I hope you are able to reply soon, as I might experiment with this this weekend.

JMonkey's picture

Actually, Caryn, I got lucky. One of the reasons I decided to make the bread in the first place was that one of the vendors at the market was selling dried apples for a reasonable price! But if I hadn't been so lucky, I'd have just followed the directions that he gives in the recipe for drying the apples. I recently made his hazelnut-fig bread (delicious, if unusual -- it's also got rosemary and fennel seed), and roasted the nuts myself. This area produces something like 90 percent of the U.S. filberts, which, oddly enough, taste and look almost exactly like hazelnuts, but are a completely different species. Anyway I followed Hammelman's directions for roasting the nuts, and they came out perfect.

As for starter compensation, I just followed the recipe and eliminated the yeast altogether. It took about 5.5 hours for the bulk rise, and another 3 for the shaped rise, but, remember, I keep my house really chilly. You may not need as much time.

I also didn't knead, but used the trusty stretch and fold. Worked great.

caryn's picture

Thank you so much, JMonkey for your very prompt reply.  I may just try drying the apples- I have some very nice apples I got from my local farmer's market this week.  I will probably try this on Sunday after I get some apple cider.  The other bread sounds fabulous as well.  I love fennel seeds in bread.

caryn's picture

JMonkey- I am finally getting back to this thread.  I am still planning on making the Hamelman apple bread for Thanksgiving, but I just want to thank you for inspiring me to try another recipe from his book.   I have too many bread books :) and forget about some of the interesting formulas that are in my older books.  So I made his sourdough rye with raisins and walnuts:

Sourdough Rye with Raisins and Walnuts- From Hamelman's "Bread"Sourdough Rye with Raisins and Walnuts- From Hamelman's "Bread"

Sourdough Rye with Raisins and Walnuts- CutSourdough Rye with Raisins and Walnuts- Cut

In any case though the bread was pleasing, but I found it a bit bland.  I noticed that the salt percentage was less than the breads that I have been making recently, and that would explain why.  Did you think that the apple bread had sufficient salt for your taste?  I am comparing this Hamelman formula to both Maggie Glezer's Thom Leonard boule and the whole wheat miche from BBA.


goetter's picture

Plenty of apples here in Washington state, yes.  I'm writing from pear country, though.  Apples are in the next county over.

Thanks, JMonkey, for recommending this beautiful bread.  I hadn't noticed it in before Hamelman, as I tend to breeze past "specialty bread" recipes with amendments.  This one's special, though.

I built the levain with whole wheat flour, using all white bread flour for the remainder of the dough; this changied the overall percentage overall to 17% wheat, 83% white.  The dough was a bit stiff in the mixer until I added more water, and the baked loaf came out a little chewy.  Perhaps KA Bread Flour is too strong for the recipe; next time I'll use their AP, which is still pretty high protein.

Spiking the dough with baker's yeast per the recipe, I didn't get the tart lemony-apple-pie character that you mention.  I may try an all-natural rise next time.

I used small Gala apples, four such giving enough apple to make a 1kg loaf.  Didn't bother peeling them, as they were pesticide-free: just sliced them, dried them in the oven (250F, 1.5 hours, turned once - I was using the oven to temper a new baking stone, which dictated the time) until rubbery, then chopped the slices coarsely before adding them to the dough.  The baked peel is pleasant in the bread, and perhaps helps compensate for the characterless apple-juice-from-concentrate that I used instead of unfiltered cilder.

JMonkey's picture

Glad you liked it! Yeah, I find KA bread flour to be way too high in protein for most breads, unless I'm doing a rye or filling it with lots of goodies. Makes the bread tough, to my taste. I prefer KA Organic AP or plain KA AP, though now that I'm on the West Coast, I'm using Giusto's Baker's Choice, and liking it a lot.