Last night, I stepped on the scale for the first time since 2008. My weight tends to stay the same, so I really didn’t see the point about worrying about a set of numbers. Then, it happened. I stepped on and saw a number that was about 10 pounds higher than what I expected to see. In a feeble attempt to fight that the scale was broken, I stepped on two more times – all with the same result.
I took a look around the house – scones on the dining room table, cans of pop by my seat, the empty macaroni-and-cheese-for-the-second-time-this-weekend pot, this delicious bread half-devoured on the stove. And for the record, that was all me. I realized that it was time to make a change. No, I am not going to go completely health-food on you. I believe in the wonderful adage, “All things in moderation.” So, a reasonable slice of this delicious bread with some yogurt is my breakfast. The idea of cooking the apples in brown sugar and cinnamon before adding them to the batter? Genius.
1 stick plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 Granny Smith apples—peeled, cored and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 very ripe bananas, mashed (1 cup)
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
In a large skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter with the brown sugar. Add the apples and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until tender and golden, 4 to 5 minutes. Add 1/2 teaspoon of the cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon of the vanilla and transfer the apples to a plate.
Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease and flour a 9-by-5-by-4 1/2 inch loaf pan. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, salt, cloves, nutmeg and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon.
In a large bowl, using a handheld electric mixer, beat the remaining stick of butter with the granulated sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and mix until smooth. Add the mashed bananas, orange juice and the remaining 1 teaspoon of vanilla and beat until smooth. Add the dry ingredients and beat on low speed until smooth. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the apples.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface. Bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean; cover loosely with foil if the loaf becomes too dark. Let the loaf cool in the pan for 10 minutes before turning it out onto a rack to cool completely.